A UNICEF delegation to Sharjah has hailed the emirate’s efforts in providing a safe and nurturing environment for children, steered under the vision, goals and holistic approach of the Sharjah Child Friendly Office (SCFO), which is bolstering the emirate’s status as the first Child Friendly City in the world.During a visit to SCFO, the delegation was briefed on the emirate’s leading efforts in safeguarding child rights and promoting the wellbeing of children in cooperation with various sectors and entities that led to the conferment of the prestigious UNICEF title.Dr. Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SCFO, received the UNICEF delegation comprising Dr. Eliana Riggo Chaudhuri, CFCI Consultant ; Erika Strand, Chief Social Policy-UNICEF GAO; and Noheier Nashaat, Program Coordinator- UNICEF GAO..During the visit, SCFO organised field visits to various government institutions and bodies that are implementing Child Friendly City principles in line with international standards and best practices. A series of meetings and discussions were also held to shine light on the respective projects and initiatives undertaken till date to fulfill their goals.The delegation met with the Sharjah Social Services Department, Sharjah Police, Child Safety Department, Sharjah Prevention and Safety Authority, Sharjah Private Education Authority, and the Sharjah Education Council. The UNICEF delegation also visited the headquarters of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, Sharjah Health Authority, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, and Sharjah Urban Planning Council.During their visits to the Collage Talent Center at Sharjah Ladies Club, and affiliates of Rubu’ Qarn Foundation for Creating Leaders and Innovators, including Wasit Youth Center, Sharjah Children – Al Qarayen, and Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, the delegation was briefed on the activities and programmes designed to unleash the potential and hone the skills and capabilities of the younger generations. Commenting on the visit, Dr. Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SCFO, emphasised the entity’s strong bonds with UNICEF and hailed the guidance and support provided in developing effective programmes that led to Sharjah’s crowning as the first Child Friendly City in the world.The Executive Director of SCFO said: “The implementation of Child Friendly City standards requires unwavering commitment and cooperation amongst all stakeholders to fulfill the vision of creating safe, inclusive and child-responsive cities and communities. Creating a safe and nurturing environment for children strengthens their mental and physical wellbeing, safeguards their right to play in spaces that meet child-friendly urban planning standards, and equips them with knowledge to forge a bright future.”For her part, Erika Strand, Director of Social Policy, United Nations Children’s Fund, said: “During our short visit to the UAE, we were able to see a small sample of the programmes and services on offer to children. From specialised justice services and police training on child protection to innovative, geospatialised data collection used to minimise the time children spend on the school bus each day, it is clear that Sharjah has found creative and innovative ways to improve the everyday lives of children.”

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