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The Princess of Wales launches ‘Shaping Us’ campaign

Published 1 February 2023

The Princess of Wales has launched the 'Shaping Us' campaign to raise awareness of the importance of Early Childhood

Shaping Us is a new long-term campaign from The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, spearheaded by The Princess of Wales, which aims to transform the issue from one of scientific interest to one of the most strategically important topics of our time. 

The 90-second claymation film shows how a little girl named Layla develops from pregnancy to age five and how she is shaped by her interactions with the people and environment around her.

The Princess of Wales said:

“The way we develop, through our experiences, relationships, and surroundings during our early childhood, fundamentally shapes our whole lives. It affects everything from our ability to form relationships and thrive at work, to our mental and physical well-being as adults and the way we parent our own children.

“These are the most preventative years. By focusing our collective time, energy, and resources to build a supportive, nurturing world around the youngest members of our society and those caring for them, we can make a huge difference to the health and happiness of generations to come.

“All of society has a role to play in this, even if you are not directly involved in a child’s life, because we are all responsible for building a more compassionate world in which our children can grow, learn and live. 

"In these difficult times, it is more important than ever to help support parents and caregivers provide loving, safe and secure homes for their babies and young children to thrive.”

Her Royal Highness was in Leeds to launch the campaign - a city that has the ambition to be the best place in the UK for children and young people to grow up in. The city launched Child Friendly Leeds in 2012 with the belief that by investing in and supporting children, young people and their families, the whole city will see immediate and longer-term social and economic benefits. 

The day started at the iconic Kirkgate Market where The Princess met vendors and members of the public to discuss early childhood. 

The Princess of Wales visits Kirkgate Market

Her Royal Highness then visited the University of Leeds, where she joined students on the Childhood Studies degree programme. Childhood Studies places childhood at the centre of study and uses a multidisciplinary lens to gain a holistic view of the child and childhood. Students move on to a range of careers following graduation, for example social work, early years settings, therapeutic professions, the civil service, and the charity sector.

Students at the University of Leeds have the opportunity to take ‘Discovery modules’ outside of their degree programme and therefore some students present will be undertaking undergraduate degrees in other subjects, for example in education, psychology and sociology. The Princess joined lecture on the “Psychological Approaches to Understanding and Supporting Children’s Learning” module.

This is a second-year module where students examine current understandings of children's learning and development, including attachment theory. The module covers key areas of cognitive development as well as social and emotional aspects of learning and examines these within a range of social contexts including learning through play.

Her Royal Highness then sat down with a group of students to discuss the “Shaping Us” campaign, how it overlaps with the degree they are undertaking and their perspectives on its potential impact for society.