A month of early childhood in Brazil raises public awareness on the importance of the early years

Brazil’s first-ever “early years month”, in August 2021, started with messages projected onto the National Congress in the nation’s capital, Brasília. Over ten consecutive nights a public awareness campaign saw messages about early childhood projected onto high-profile buildings in ten Brazilian cities to give more visibility to early years across the country.

Projection on the National Congress in Brasília. Photo: Courtesy of Jay Barros

The projections had three main objectives: to show people that city managers are committed to a good start in life, celebrate one year of the Urban95 network, and invite the whole community to join in singing, playing and telling stories to their children, every day.

Also in early years month, the Ministry of Citizenship organised seminars and workshops on the importance of the early years, with expert speakers including representatives from the Bernard van Leer Foundation. Some cities organised additional activities, such as a “Week of the baby”.

National Congress leads the way

Permission to project visual messages onto the public building in Brasilia was made possible by the support of Leandre Dal Ponte, Federal Deputy and President of the Parliamentary Front for Early Childhood. She says:

“Inspiring people, mobilising leaders and sensitising society about the importance of the early years, so that no child is left behind, has been my mission because I believe that only healthy child development is able to make humans more prepared for adulthood, less violent, more creative, with the possibility of achieving higher levels of education, knowledge and life skills.”

Over the following nine nights, messages were also projected on public buildings in Campinas, Jundiaí, Caruaru, Aracaju, Fortaleza, Crato, Niterói, Pelotas and Brasiléia.

The visual campaign marked the cities’ first year as an Urban95 partner. The projections were tailored to each city. The messages drew attention to the importance of public policies that prioritise pregnant women, babies, children and caregivers, and the daily actions caregivers can take to support their children’s development.

Raising awareness of why cities prioritise early childhood

The campaign was considered a success, with the projections attracting widespread attention and media coverage and enabling city leaders to publicly reinforce their commitment to making their cities more attractive for raising a family. We hope that cities will make it a regular event, using projects they are already implementing – such as Streets for Play – to raise awareness of the importance of the early years.

Projection in Crato. Photo: Courtesy of Jardel Matos

The Urban95 network in Brazil continues to expand, and now includes 24 cities. It has inspired and harnessed the commitment of public leaders in the cities, supporting them to prioritise the early years on their agendas. The network works with each city to identify priorities for interventions, such as mobility solutions and behaviour change campaigns. We are developing with each city a 10-year municipal plan, which has already been passed into law in some cases.