University and Minderoo launch ‘Thrive by Five’ app, in Indonesia

The University of Sydney and Minderoo Foundation have begun the global rollout of a unique, culturally tailored app for carers focused on crucial early childhood development, with the first launch in Indonesia today.

Minderoo Foundation with the University of Sydney today launched a global, multichannel program, starting in Indonesia, which aims to reach every parent, and thereby every child, everywhere. The Thrive by Five International Program has been designed to provide content to parents and caregivers through a variety of channels, both digital and non-digital, in their own language and tailored to meet each country’s language, cultural and social requirements.

The program aims to rollout across 30 countries. It includes an app for parents and caregivers of children from birth up to five years old, in local languages and with tailored content led by the University’s  Brain and Mind Centre.

Scientific lead Professor Ian Hickie said the program was a world-first, uniquely combining new insights from the science of early brain development with application of place-specific cultural knowledge.

“We can bring neuroscience and the practices of child-rearing together to create an environment that will help each child to reach their maximum cognitive and emotional potential,” Professor Hickie said.

Dr Andrew Forrest AO, chairman and founder of Minderoo Foundation, said the Foundation was looking to achieve a global paradigm shift for children around the world.

“Every child, no matter where they live, has a right to have the best possible start to life,” he said.

“Our special focus is on communities where awareness of the importance of early childhood development is low, or where access to this information is limited, and providing them easily accessible information tailored to them.”

This is a world-first, combining insights from the science of early brain development with application of place-specific cultural knowledge.

Professor Ian Hickie

About the program

Academic lead Dr Haley LaMonica, from the Brain and Mind Centre and Faculty of Medicine and Health, said academics grouped content into five developmental domains: social, physical, cognitive, communication and language, and culture and identity.

“The five neurobiological systems that support optimal social, emotional and cognitive development in early childhood can be targeted by parents, extended family and communities,” Dr LaMonica explained.

“Importantly, the content aims to celebrate traditional parenting practices and cultural values. All of the collective actions are designed in collaboration with local parents to ensure that the content is culturally appropriate and relevant to the geographic context to ensure the greatest potential for impact.”

The program will initially be launched in Indonesia, followed by Afghanistan and Namibia. By 2024, the program will have been rolled out in 30 countries across the globe, spanning five continents.

The Thrive by Five content and app has been developed by Minderoo Foundation, in collaboration with the Brain and Mind Centre and B.B.E, the technology partner for the project.

The program includes:

  • The Thrive by Five App for parents and caregivers of children aged 0-5 years, in local languages and with tailored content.
  • Supporting Thrive by Five Content via online and offline channels.
  • The Thrive by Five TED Talk from Molly Wright, “How every child can thrive by five”, voted the most popular Ted Talk of 2021.

The app includes:

  • About 100 parenting activities.
  • Fast Facts with each activity, providing the scientific background of the activity and highlighting potential benefits based on the latest research.
  • Activity Pop Ups with each activity, detailing the cultural and traditional practices with which the Fast Facts are connected.
  • Text and audio options and local illustrations.

The Thrive by Five app will be available in each country’s app store and Google play as the program rolls out.

The University of Sydney collaborators currently comprise a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by Professor Ian Hickie and Dr Haley LaMonica from the Brain and Mind Centre, as well as Professor Michele Ford from the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, Professor Rita Shackel from the Sydney Law School and Professor Jakelin Troy, director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research, with more experts to be added as the project extends to other countries.

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