INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF CHILDHOOD

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There's no denying the world in which today's children are growing up is very different from the one the previous generation experienced.

But what are the issues and pressures on modern childhood and their impact on child health and wellbeing?

That's what the first International Festival of Childhood, taking place in Bath this summer, intends to examine and promises to be a real eye-opener for anyone interested in children, from birth onwards.

The four-day festival, being held on June 29 to July 2, will bring together a remarkable gathering of leading thinkers, authors and Early Years specialists to share their thoughts, concerns and ideas about modern childhood.

From scientists to paediatricians, pedagogues, Early Years experts and psychologists; educational researchers to businessmen, creative artists, writers, teachers, parents, practitioners and policy-makers, the festival aims to unite the thinkers with the doers in order to address a number of hot topics at the forefront of everyone's agenda.

The focus will be on four major topics: The Natural Child; Play, Creativity and Movement; The Impact of Culture; and Rights of the Child.

Among the thought-provoking speakers are a host of well-known names, many familiar to those in the Early Years sector, including Alison Baum, founder of Best Beginnings, Suzanne Zeedyk, founder of Connected Baby,

Robin Balbernie, director of the Parent Infant Partnership UK, Sarah Woodhouse, founder of Right From the Start, Naomi Danquah, director of the Child Rights programme at UNICEF UK and Leanna Barrett, found and CEO of Little Forest Folk outdoor nurseries.

The conference will run parallel to city-wide inspiring and creative events and activities for families, free of charge and open to anyone.

The festival is the result of a collaboration between the national Save Childhood Movement and the Bath-based cultural organisation 5x5x5=creativity.

The city is hosting the event as part of its commitment to becoming a UNICEF Child Friendly City and Community.

The festival is aligned with Bath’s annual Forest of Imagination contemporary arts initiative, and partners include the National Trust, the Royal Society of Arts and Bath Festivals.

Wendy Ellyatt, Founder, Save Childhood Movement, says: "From the erosion of family life, to increasingly risk averse societies, commercialisation, the impact of the digital world and the downward pressures of the schooling system, over the last few decades there have been massive changes in the lives of young children."

The evidence suggests that this is having a massive toll on child health and wellbeing.

"Combining a serious four-day seminar within an extravaganza of playful events and activities, the festival offers a global platform for people to come together to explore the issues and to seek solutions.”

Billed as an event for 'anyone interested in the nature of modern society, the importance of family and community life, the need to build cultures of lifelong learning and how we can address some of the pressures currently impacting child and family wellbeing' it certainly sounds like something that should be on our must-do list.