As part of her job as a senior royal, Kate Middleton has spent the last few years becoming a powerhouse in the field of early childhood development by convening experts and opening the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood. On Thursday, the duchess donned a millennial pink pantsuit and gathered a group of experts and politicians at London’s Royal Institution to discuss a newly released report that is helping Kate and her team chart their path forward.
Along with Sajid Javid, the U.K.’s secretary of state for health, Will Quince, minister for families, and an array of representatives from the early years sector, Kate unveiled the results of the research, which was conducted by polling firm Ipsos on behalf of the foundation.
“We know that only a minority of people understand the critical importance of the first five years of a child’s life, and this is what we really do need to change,” the duchess said during the roundtable, according to Hello. “If we can teach children to manage their emotions and feelings at a young age, it will help them avoid having to turn to addiction, self-harm or suicide even in later life. Together we have a huge opportunity here to help shape the future.”
Like a previous Ipsos survey distributed by the Centre for Early Childhood when it was formed last June, the new survey is focused on gauging awareness of the importance of the early childhood years among the U.K.’s population. “Although the majority of us agree that the experiences people have in childhood can have a significant impact on their future, a minority of Britons recognise the unique importance of the first five years of a child’s life,” Ipsos U.K.’s chief executive Kelly Beaver said in a statement. “This critical new research for the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood provides the opportunity for society to ignite a discussion about how parents and children can be better supported during this period.”
In her own statement released alongside the report, Kate explained why measuring the changing awareness of early childhood is a component of the foundation’s work. “The findings published today present us with a huge opportunity and demonstrate there is real appetite from the public to bring this issue up [in] all of our agendas,” she said. “There is more we can all do – every member of society can play a key role, whether that is directly with a child or by investing in the adults around them—the parents, the carers, the early years workforce and more.”
Though she is a mother herself, Kate has previously explained that her passion for research on the lifelong effects of childhood emerged through her involvement with charities that combat addiction. Back in 2019, one of Kate’s aides told Vanity Fair that her involvement in the project was built over the course of a few years because being involved was a part of her long-term plans. “This is not a project the duchess is going to dip in and out of, it’s something that will define her over the coming decades,” the aide said. “This is very much a personal mission and one Kate wants to drive.”
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