David Beckham visits children in China
Global Icon and father-of-four David Beckham met with pre-school children on a visit to a kindergarten supporting migrant families in Shanghai, on his first official visit to China as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Through my work with UNICEF, I’ve learnt how children – especially those affected by migration – benefit from quality early childhood education. It gives them a solid foundation, boosts their confidence and helps them make new friends.
It was Beckham’s first official visit to China as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. During his visit, Beckham joined young children in their play and early learning activities at the Xianghuaqiao Kindergarten; and spoke with parents who have migrated to the Qingpu District of Shanghai in search of better employment and more opportunities for their families.
The Play for Resilience project is centred around creating a safe, inclusive, child-friendly and stimulating environment for children. The kindergarten is one of seven that UNICEF is piloting under a new project that uses play to strengthen the confidence and social skills of pre-school children between the ages of 3 and 6 years old who have been affected by migration.
When young children play and learn in a safe environment it gives them the positive experiences they need for healthy development.
China’s economic reform and growth has been accompanied by an increase in migration within the country. It is estimated that over 240 million people have migrated domestically. Many families are left with a hard decision between migrating with their children or leaving them behind in rural areas. It is estimated that nearly 69 million children have been left behind, and 34 million children have migrated nationwide. One out of every five children in urban areas is a migrant child.
Migrant workers who make the hard decision to leave their children behind often do so to earn money and make a better life for their families. Quality, affordable kindergartens could help keep migrant families together, as they provide quality childcare and early learning support for the children.
It’s been amazing to see these young children enjoying the chance to play and learn together. They have big dreams and these positive early experiences will help to unlock their incredible potential in the future.
Every child needs access to good quality public services to fulfil their potential, thrive and ultimately make the biggest possible contribution to their societies. UNICEF works closely with the Government of China and other partners to provide families in China equal access to services, especially the most disadvantaged and hardest-to-reach.
Over the past 14 years, Beckham has travelled extensively to meet children across the world, and see UNICEF’s work on the ground. Since his appointment as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2005, David Beckham has demonstrated a deep personal commitment to speak out on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable children. In 2015, he founded 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund to help children, especially girls, unlock their incredible potential.
I hope there will be more places like Xianghuaqiao Kindergarten to offer this learning support to every child in China.