x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Seven emiratis participate in prestigious fellowship

Eight young fellows from education and health sectors - of whom seven are Emiratis - will design projects advancing the understanding of development in early years.

ABU DHABI // Seven Emiratis are among the first participants of a prestigious programme to boost the early development of children.

The Shamsa bint Mohammed Al Nahyan fellowship challenges eight young professionals in education and health to devise a unique project in their field.

It is held in collaboration with Yale University.

Dr Fayeza Nasir, clinical affairs director at Ambulatory Health Services, has a project in which parents interact with their children, teaching them to point at and name objects.

“What we see is that parents are unaware of the child’s development,” Dr Nasir said.

“I will come up with brochures to show the developmental milestones in which the child goes through.

“Parents must talk to their children to show them what objects are and what they are called.”

A one-year-old child must be able to point at things and recognise them, said Dr Nasir.

“If he doesn’t, the parents must be concerned,” she warned. “That might affect other milestones and lead to other development delays.”

The eight participants were chosen after interviews conducted by Yale University and the foundation.

The one-year programme includes workshops, mentoring and a field trip to Yale in the United States.

Alisha Nanji, from Canada, is a kindergarten teacher and plans to design a handbook for parents on positive discipline as part of her project.

The handbook will include ways to prevent tantrums and encourage children.

Another fellow, Dr Huda Al Dhanhani, an Emirati paediatrician at Tawam Hospital, will focus on family structure to compare interaction, language and social skills of children.

Dr Al Dhanhani will compare the development of children raised by nannies with those who have more interaction with family members.

“We don’t have research on this topic and I want to start on language,” she said.

Fellow Sara Al Suwaidi, an acting manager at Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), said the first five years of the child’s life were the most vital.

“It is our turn to implement what we have learned to suit our culture and help the UAE,” Ms Al Suwaidi said.

“We have to develop a person that can speak, think and analyse.”

Heba Al Hashemi, head of faculty at Adec, is another of the fellows. As a mother, she said differences in culture must be taken into consideration.

“What we learned can be implemented of course, we only need to focus on our traditions and what we were accustomed to while growing up,” Ms Al Hashemi said.

The programme is being held under the patronage of the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and will conclude in October.

aalkhoori@thenational.ae