The Princess of Wales Visits Leeds to Launch Shaping Us Campaign

Ahead of the launch of our new campaign designed to raise awareness of the critical importance of early childhood, The Princess of Wales has written an open letter outlining why this issue is so important. Photo credit: Kensington Palace
Ahead of the launch of our new campaign designed to raise awareness of the critical importance of early childhood, The Princess of Wales has written an open letter outlining why this issue is so important. Photo credit: Kensington Palace


Tuesday 31st January 2023

The Princess of Wales will visit Leeds as she launches a major new awareness raising campaign to increase public understanding of the crucial importance of the first five years of a child’s life.

Shaping Us is a new long-term campaign from The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood which aims to transform the issue from one of scientific interest to one of the most strategically important topics of our time. Spearheaded by the Princess of Wales and with support from a range of high-profile figures from the world of media, music, science and sports, Shaping Us will begin with the release of a short film, highlighting how babies and children develop in response to their earliest experiences.

Children and young people’s interests are at the heart of life in Leeds, which has an ambition to be the best place in the UK for children and young people to grow up in. The city launched Child Friendly Leeds in 2012 with the belief that by investing in and supporting children, young people and their families, the whole city will see immediate and longer-term social and economic benefits.

Since then, Leeds City Council has been working with partners across the city to deliver enrichment programmes to improve outcomes and have seen many positive results, including a safe and appropriate reduction in the number of children and young people being taken into local authority care, more young people going into education, employment and training, and better school attendance.

Engagement 1:

The Princess of Wales will bring the Shaping Us campaign to the heart of the community when she visits the iconic Kirkgate Market and meets vendors and members of the public to discuss early childhood.

The Princess will briefly tour the market where she will meet vendors including some who have been in the market for over thirty years.

Her Royal Highness will then join a discussion with vendors and local people about their experiences of early childhood, their reflections on the Shaping Us film and what it might mean to them.

Leeds Kirkgate Market opened in 1857 and is home to hundreds of local independent businesses covering everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, butchers, and fishmongers, to a Community Library, cookery school and Volunteer Centre.

The market receives around 120,000 visitors a week and is much loved by the people of Leeds, providing a place where customers can shop sustainably and where communities can come together to enjoy cultural events and vibrant street food. Its mission is to be an inclusive, successful, and sustainable part of the Leeds city centre offer where independent retailers can innovate and thrive.

Engagement 2:

The Princess will visit the University of Leeds, where she will join students on the Childhood Studies degree programme. Childhood Studies places childhood at the centre of study and uses a multidisciplinary lens to gain a holistic view of the child and childhood.

Students move on to a range of careers following graduation, for example social work, early years settings, therapeutic professions, the civil service, and the charity sector. Students at the University of Leeds have the opportunity to take ‘Discovery modules’ outside of their degree programme and therefore some students present will be undertaking undergraduate degrees in other subjects, for example in education, psychology and sociology.

Her Royal Highness will initially join a lecture on the “Psychological Approaches to Understanding and Supporting Children’s Learning” module. This is a second-year module where students examinecurrent understandings of children’s learning and development, including attachment theory. The module covers key areas of cognitive development as well as social and emotional aspects of learning and examines these within a range of social contexts including learning through play. Students on this programme will consider the factors which may influence development, and the roles of key adults including teachers, teaching assistants, and parents in a child’s development.

The lecture underway when the Princess visits will be focused on attachment theory, specifically how relationships formed in early childhood provide a template for later life and set the foundations for all future learning, behaviour and health.

The Princess will then sit down with a group of students to discuss the “Shaping Us” campaign, how it overlaps with the degree they are undertaking and their perspectives on its potential impact for society.

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