eMessage Archive

Importance of relationships May 03 2021


2020 is a year that reminds us of the importance of relationships. Like each individual, each relationship is unique. In the first video, listen to Dr. Ann Masten, a leading expert in resilience research from the Child Development Institute at the University of Minnesota, highlight individual differences in terms of how people react to stress. Although interviewed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, her messages are especially relevant at this time.

The second video shows a mother playing with her baby, then soothing her to sleep. Just as it is important for parents to provide nurturing and responsive care - to pick up on their babies’ cues and offer support - relationships are important to people of all ages. Think about people in your family or community. What are some creative and innovative ways people are using to keep connected and be supportive during times of social distancing?

Caregiving practicies - baby wraps & mossbags December 17 2019


Early development is shaped by minute-by-minute, day-by-day sensory input: the seeing, tasting, touching and being touched, the sounds and smells of daily life. Much of this happens through daily caregiving routines.

There is a wide variety of caregiving practices around the world, often rooted in cultural traditions and beliefs. In some North American Indigenous communities adults used moss bags and cradleboards so that a baby could be placed on a mother’s back, carried in a parent’s arms, or propped up near family members. In Africa, baby wraps were used by adults, usually mothers, to wrap and carry a baby in order to keep the baby close throughout the day. Many parents and communities still honour and promote these traditions.

The ‘baby wraps’ video is a brief collage of mothers in Mozambique, carrying and interacting with their closely wrapped babies. In the second video, Audrey Fourre, a Family Literacy Facilitator with the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, talks about moss bags and their important role in caregiving.    

What do you see as the functions or benefits of such practices?  Are there similar practices in your family or community? How can you value and respect these and other practices that support the caregiver-child relationship that is so crucial to early development?

Children's right to play December 17 2018


Universal Children’s Day is a time to reflect and remind ourselves about the rights of children. 

Children grow up in very different contexts, in families and societies with different values and resources. Views vary about what childhood represents and what children are able to do and not do and how they should be treated.  While the concept of childhood is influenced by a variety of factors, support for the principles of child rights has been almost universally endorsed.

The United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted in 1989. Article 31 of the CRC recognizes the right of the child to engage in play and the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for play.

Play is essential for healthy development.  Play is the vehicle through which children’s learning is best supported.  Although children do play naturally, there is much that adults and caregivers must do to ensure and enhance children’s right to play. 

Throughout the world, there are various efforts underway to promote play.  Many of these are featured in the SECD suite of resources.  The following videos are just two examples.  The first video depicts the universal nature of play through engaging footage from numerous countries.  The second video features a Community Health Volunteer facilitating a play box session at a community health clinic in western Kenya.

What are ways that your community supports children’s right to play?
Red River College University of Toronto AKDN - Aga Khan Development Network