Thrive by Five23 Mar 2023

Integrating science, culture and anthropology: A new journal article discusses Thrive by Five International’s novel scientific framework

Recent years have marked astounding progress in our scientific understanding of how the first five years affect our lifelong health and wellbeing.

Rosa Otunbayeva Initiative
Rosa Otunbayeva Initiative launch. Photo Credit: Roza Otunbayeva Initiative via International Public Foundation.

Venturing beyond the simple ‘nature versus nurture’ dichotomy, research continues to show that environmental factors such as what parents and families do with children significantly influence our cognitive, social and emotional functioning in adulthood. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of twin studies estimated that around 40 per cent of individual differences in self-control can be attributed to environmental effects.

In today’s web-based world, digital technologies such as smartphone apps are a revolutionary force for delivering health information while overcoming ethnic, racial, socioeconomic and regional disparities. Thrive by Five is one such program that harnesses modern technology to disseminate content about the importance of the first five years to parents and caregivers in diverse cultural settings.

Setting the program apart from other popular parenting apps is its strong focus on combining scientific knowledge with a cultural and anthropological analysis of each country’s local context. The Thrive by Five content consists of more than 100 ‘Collective Actions’, parenting activities that incorporate cultural examples and support children’s healthy development. To reach as many parents and caregivers as possible, the content is disseminated globally through a variety of digital and non-digital channels, including an app, printed assets, and a WhatsApp chatbot.

As the program’s global research partner, the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre discusses Thrive by Five’s scientific framework in a peer reviewed paper published in JMIR Research Protocols. ‘Designing an App for Parents and Caregivers to Promote Cognitive and Socioemotional Development and Well-being Among Children Aged 0 to 5 Years in Diverse Cultural Settings: Scientific Framework’ dives deep into the scientific framework that underpins this project’s approach to content development and how this is intertwined with culture and anthropology within a co-design context. It also discusses:

  • The five domains used to organise the program’s content and goals (Connect, Talk, Play, Community and Healthy Home)
  • Five of the key neurobiological systems relevant to early childhood development and how they can be targeted behaviourally to influence social, emotional and cognitive development
  • The anthropological and cultural framework for learning about local contexts and appreciating decolonisation perspectives
  • The approach to tailoring the content to local contexts, which includes collaboration with in-country partner organisations and local and international subject matter experts in ECD and anthropology

To date, the Thrive by Five program has launched in Indonesia, Afghanistan, Namibia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malaysia.

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 key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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