In honor of Father’s Day, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) celebrated the role that fathers play in a child’s early life, especially fathers raising their children in extreme poverty or armed conflict, with its Super Dads initiative. From June 6 to June 18, UNICEF’s social media spotlighted super dads who ranged from notable celebrities to refugees.
UNICEF encouraged its more than six million Twitter followers and nearly two million Instagram followers to learn more about the important role that fathers play in the first thousand days of a child’s life and to share moments that showed why their dads are super dads.
Idro, a South Sudanese refugee, is one such super dad who tries to improve the quality of life for his family. Idro and his family are currently living in Uganda’s Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, which is the world’s largest. He spoke about playing games with his daughter, saying, “She must feel that I love her. If I can’t fulfill for my family, I am not happy.”
One super dad highlighted on the UNICEF Instagram account was Abraham, a father also living in Uganda. He said that when his newborn is distressed, he rocks him, sings to him and gives him kisses. When his baby boy, Angolere, becomes happy, it makes Abraham happy too.
Celebrity dads also promoted UNICEF’s Super Dads initiative. David Beckham, English soccer star and father of three, talked about the dads he’s met through his work with UNICEF “who…will do anything to give [their children] the support and love they need even when faced with huge challenges.”
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and tennis champion Novak Djokovic, whose foundation supports early childhood education, said that he is participating in the campaign because it encourages fathers to be “the Super Dads their kids desperately need.”
The Super Dads initiative is part of #EarlyMomentsMatter, a UNICEF campaign that educates the public about the importance of a child’s early years emphasizing that a child needs love, play, protection, and nutrition for healthy development. They are especially important in critical situations, and parents are the key individuals who provide these for their children.
UNICEF’s Chief of Early Childhood Development, Pia Britto, noted that good parenting can act as a buffer for youth living in highly stressful situations. This aids in childhood development in spite of poor living conditions.
The goal of #EarlyMomentsMatter is also to encourage the private and public spheres to work together to take down barriers so that parents can have more of those important and special moments with their newborns. The campaign stresses that a father’s role in early cognitive development is not only significant for the child’s present but also for the child’s future development, happiness and welfare.
– Sean Newhouse