Media ReleaseThrive by Five22 Jul 2021

7-year-old reveals how peek-a-boo can change the world in new TED talk

Minderoo Foundation has partnered with TED and UNICEF to showcase Thrive by Five’s global mission to raise awareness about the importance of brain development in the first five years.

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Molly Wright speaks at TEDMonterey: Session Zero. July 2021. Photo courtesy of TED.

A ground-breaking TED Talk by a 7-year-old girl is set to change the way parents and caregivers around the world view early childhood brain development and how adults interact with children. 

Molly Wright, a Grade 2 student from Queensland, Australia, today became one of the youngest TED speakers in history after her talk premiered at TED’s Session Zero in Monterey, California, USA, and was simultaneously sent around the world via TED.com.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Michael Gracey (director of The Greatest Showman), the Thrive by Five TED Talk demonstrates the simple yet life-changing things we can all do to help children thrive.

The Thrive by Five TED Talk was brought to life by Minderoo Foundation, one of Australasia’s largest philanthropic organisations, and aligns with Minderoo’s Thrive by Five initiative. 

In the lead up to today’s global launch, the Thrive by Five TED Talk was shown to new parents in maternity wards in Australia (through Ramsay Health Care) and Afghanistan (via Bayat Foundation) as part of a pilot – with plans to have the film shown in more hospitals around the world.

UNICEF is supporting with global distribution of the film.

Leading philanthropist and Minderoo Foundation Co-chair Nicola Forrest AO said it was Thrive by Five’s mission to ensure every child, no matter where they grow up or who their parents are, has an equal chance to reach their full potential.

“We believe every child can, and should, thrive by the age of five,” Mrs Forrest said. “Science tells us that the volume of a child’s brain has reached 90 per cent by the age of five so we want to help set parents up for success and increase awareness of the importance of having positive interactions with children – early and often.

“Molly beautifully delivers this universal truth – that the early years are the most critical period for shaping a child’s life now, and in their future.”

Head of TED Chris Anderson said Molly’s message would resonate around the globe.

“I absolutely love this talk,” Mr Anderson said. “Ideas can come from anywhere. To hear a powerful idea like this spoken so eloquently by a child … Wow! This deserves a huge audience.”

Initial feedback from the first hospital pilots in Australia and Afghanistan has been heartening, with more than nine (9) out of 10 new mums and dads saying that the film has inspired them to connect, talk and play more with their kids in their early years. Nearly all viewers said they would want their friends and family to view the film.

“The Thrive by Five TED Talk draws on the five top tips of connect, play, talk, healthy home and community, focusing on the simple and fun things we can do in a child’s first five years that will have a profound impact on their brain development and wellbeing,” Mrs Forrest said.

“Not only is this important information to share amongst parents and carers, but policymakers and world leaders.”

Quotes from our partners

Professor Desiree Silva, Head of Paediatrics, Joondalup Health Campus (Perth, Australia)

“The opportunity for us to share the film with patients in our Joondalup and Glengarry maternity wards and early parenting centre has been a real joy.
“The message to connect and play, early and often with children from birth to age five is vital in their development and overall wellbeing.
“New parents at our hospitals found the video educational, entertaining and inspiring.

“Molly’s TED Talk has the potential to improve the health outcomes for children on a global scale.”

Ms Mariam Bayat, Director, The Bayat Foundation

“Maternal and early childhood health has been a priority for the Bayat Foundation since our inception, and the opportunity to work in partnership with the Minderoo Foundation to launch the Thrive by Five TED talk highlighting the importance of early childhood education in Afghanistan is a unique privilege for us and serves a compelling need in our country.

“Sharing Molly’s TED Talk and the important lessons about positive engagement between parents and children in the critical early years of life will inspire Afghan mothers, fathers, and families to further instil critical thinking, emotional intelligence, inclusive communication, and collaborative problem-solving skills with their young children.

“We believe that this presentation will help give rise to thousands of Afghan “Mollys” in the years ahead – talented, confident, compassionate, positive, and emotionally secure Afghan children who will grow into the nation’s future doctors, educators, lawyers, and leaders, a tremendous resource for Afghanistan and a lasting tribute to the impact that passionate philanthropic organisations – Afghan and Australian – can achieve in the near and medium-term despite the daily challenges in our nation today.”

Mr Justin Graham, Group CEO, M&C Saatchi AUNZ

“The M&C Saatchi Group is incredibly proud to be a part of this initiative with Minderoo, Australia’s largest philanthropic agency, and the talented team at production company – FINCH.

“The Thrive by Five TED Talk will be launched via social media, in hospitals around the world, and will be supported by a global launch strategy to connect the content to the right people at the right moments.

“Minderoo is an organisation that is creating change on a global level, and we are delighted that we are able to partner with them to realise their ambitions through creative thinking.”

Mr Rob Galluzzo, CEO, FINCH

“We’re excited to see the difference that this film makes over the years to come. It’s been a pleasure to work with world-class partners such as Minderoo Foundation, M&C Saatchi and TED to capture a discussion that will change parents, guardians, their children and future generations.”

ABout TED

TED is a nonprofit organisation devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, often in the form of short talks delivered by leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED conferences, intimate TED Salons and thousands of independently organised TEDx events around the world. Videos of these talks are made available, free, on TED.com and other platforms. Audio versions of TED Talks are published to TED Talks Daily, available on all podcast platforms.

TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include TED.com, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; TEDx, which licenses thousands of individuals and groups to host local, self-organised TED-style events around the world; the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities; The Audacious Project, which surfaces and funds critical ideas that have the potential to impact millions of lives; TED Translators, which crowdsources the subtitling of TED Talks so that big ideas can spread across languages and borders; and the educational initiative TED-Ed.

TED also offers TED@Work, a program that reimagines TED Talks for workplace learning. TED also has a growing library of original podcasts, including The TED Interview with Chris Anderson, WorkLife with Adam Grant, Far Flung with Saleem Reshamwala and How to Be a Better Human.

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with eight key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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