United Nations, June 6: Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar joins a roster of global celebrities, including David Beckham and Novak Djokovic, for a special UNICEF campaign that highlights the critical role played by fathers in children's early development.
The UNICEF initiative "Super Dads", coming just days ahead of Father's Day, celebrates fatherhood and highlights the importance of love, play, protection and good nutrition for the healthy development of young children's brains.
The campaign, which highlights fathers' critical role in children's early development, features stars from the world of entertainment and sport including Tendulkar, Beckham, Djokovic, Academy Award winning American actor Mahershala Ali, British Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton and Australian actor Hugh Jackman.
"When I was a young child, my father gave me the right amount of love, freedom and support to shape who I am today," Tendulkar, a UNICEF Ambassador, said in a statement.
"Every kid needs protection, love, good food and play to support growth and development, and it s up to both parents to provide these," he said.
Djokovic said as a father, he has seen for himself the impact that love and positive action has had on his child during the early years of life.
"Being a new parent isn't easy. There are many challenges that fathers across the world face. This campaign is about supporting and encouraging fathers so they can be the Super Dads their kids desperately need," said the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
The heart-warming videos and photos of celebrity dads in the campaign will be coupled with stories of super dads from across the world, including those who are doing their best to raise their children in extremely difficult circumstances.
One such super dad is South Sudanese refugee Idro, who is raising three daughters aged 2 months, 3 and 13 years old in Uganda s Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, the largest in the world. Idro fled his war-torn country in July 2016, and is doing everything he can to keep his young daughters healthy, happy and safe, UNICEF said.
"The earliest years of life present a critical, once-in- a-lifetime opportunity to shape children's brain development and it's their parents who hold the largest stake in this process," UNICEF Chief of Early Childhood Development Pia Britto said.
Britto added that the more fathers, mothers and other family members shower their babies and young children with love, play, good nutrition and protection.
"The better these children's chances are of reaching optimal health, happiness and learning ability. Good parenting for young children living in highly stressful conditions like conflict or extreme poverty can even provide a buffer, helping them to fully develop despite adversity," Britto said.
UNICEF added that good parenting in early childhood, especially during the first 1,000 days, sparks neural connections in children's brains, laying the foundation for their future successes. Research suggests that when children positively interact with their fathers, they have better psychological health, self-esteem and life-satisfaction in the long-term.
"We need to break down the employment and societal obstacles that deprive fathers and mothers of precious time with their young children," said Britto.
"It is critical that the private sector and governments work within their communities to give parents and caregivers of babies the time, resources and information they need to give children the best start in life," he said.
The 'Super Dads' initiative forms part of UNICEF's #EarlyMomentsMatter campaign, which aims to drive increased understanding of how children s environments and experiences in early childhood can shape their future health, well-being, ability to learn, and even how much they will earn as adults.