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The Convergence of Science and Theology: Activating the Catholic Church to invest in young children globally

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Executive Director, Arigatou International Geneva, was invited to take part in The Convergence of Science and Theology: Activating the Church to invest in young children globally. The colloquium was held from 25-26 April 2022 and organized by the University of Notre Dame’s Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child (GC-DWC). 

The Convergence of Science and Theology colloquium will advance a theological and scientific basis for integrating early childhood care and education into faith-based systems and for sharing and synthesizing lessons learned to date. Participants examined how faith-based systems can be used as effective and scalable change-drivers to increase equitable access to early childhood development and learning opportunities in low-resource countries. 

FRSFZp WUAIWhvJThis year’s colloquium focused on the Catholic parish as the unit of change. Global invitees included clergy, academics, and practitioners. This conference focused on bringing together theological and scientific knowledge about early childhood development with parish-based programs working in the home, church, and school to improve outcomes for young children. 

Ms. Uribe was invited to share the work of the International Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence during the opening ceremony of the colloquium. 

Ms. Uribe presented the toolkit on Nurturing the Spiritual Development of Children in the Early Years, its process of development and how it aims to support violence prevention and children’s holistic well-being. The toolkit is meant for faith communities and faith-based organizations to support caregivers in promoting nurturing care and positive parenting practices through play, positive experiences, and safe and empowering environments. She shared that the toolkit will be launched at the end of 2022, allowing its scale-up through the major faith-based organizations in the world and in collaboration with international organizations such as UNICEF and many other partners.

Ms. Uribe explored opportunities for collaboration with the Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child in the framework of the development of the toolkit as well as possibilities to join efforts with other organizations to pilot the implementation in 2023.

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The meeting ended with concrete ideas and reflections on research, policy, advocacy and program implementation to activate the role of faith actors in investing in early childhood development and education for children.  

We thank the Global Center for the invitation and the opportunity to collaborate.