Mothers Matter.

Mothers Matter turns waiting places into engaging learning spaces, using inexpensive cardboard video cards to show new moms just how important a child’s first 1,000 days of life are.

The need

Young children benefit from the care and stimulation provided by their primary caregivers. In turn, caregivers are empowered when they’re given the skills and tools they need to provide care for their children.

The first 1,000 days are the most important developmental stage of a child’s life. It is crucial that the child meets key cognitive milestones during this phase; the long-term effects will reverberate for years to come. Parents often assume that education begins when a child enters primary school; in fact, stimulation is critical from day one.

Although expectant parents need to know the importance of this phase, widespread awareness remains relatively low.

The innovation

The Mothers Matter project brings film to public clinic waiting rooms, in an effort to engage with parents in the most direct way.

New and expectant moms are shown a short locally produced film which focuses on the emotional, cognitive, and physical needs of babies and toddlers. The content includes mothers from different income backgrounds, taking into account the diversity of SA.

The innovation of the project lies in the way the film is screened. While many waiting rooms have TVs, a lot of them don’t work. Mothers Matter uses a portable cardboard video card instead. The film is passed from hand to hand by users, which encourages deeper engagement. It also lowers the risk of theft, and is cost-effective.

Key insights

This initiative was proposed in response to an Innovation Edge challenge, calling for ideas on how to turn Waiting Places into Engaging Spaces. These Waiting Places may include clinics, grant application or pay points, birth registration centres, taxi ranks, markets or shopping centres, amongst others.

The challenge remains open! We look forward to hearing your ideas.

The project team

Kylie Marais is a member of the “Anthropology of the First 1,000 Days of Life” project, and is interested in research about the social lives of women and children.

Astrid Berg is a Psychiatrist, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist as well as a Jungian Analyst.