Bright Start

Kick starting cognitive development for vulnerable children in South Africa


One to One Children’s Fund is addressing how to deliver early childhood development support to young children and families affected by HIV.

Early childhood is a critical stage of development that forms the foundation for children’s future learning, relationships and wellbeing.

However, there is mounting evidence that 70% of children who live in HIV-affected households experience developmental delays and cognitive deficit, whether the children themselves are infected or not. This can mean that children are denied the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

In response, One to One Children’s Fund is bringing early childhood development support directly to vulnerable children and families affected by HIV.

This initiative is grounded in the academic research of Professor Lorraine Sherr of UCL/Royal Free Hospital. It is based on evidence that play is essential to development, and that if play is led by caregivers in the home then children can benefit from positive developmental outcomes.


Key Facts:


children aged 2 – 5 years have taken part in toy-based sessions to improve a range of skills including attention, conceptual and memory, visual motor and reasoning


caregivers have been trained to better support the early learning development of their young children


of children who live in HIV-affected households experience developmental delays


will ensure we can deliver essential early childhood development support for 120 HIV-affected children and their families

I now know that you have to pay more attention when children are playing, by playing along with them so as to note where they are lacking. The only thing I knew was to just give them food and toys to play on their own.

Bright Start Parent

I have a 4 year-old girl and I used to be very distant from her… I am very thankful to Bright Start because I can now bond with my child.

Bright Start Parent


  1. Developed a ‘toy toolkit’ designed for graded learning that encourages one-to-one time with children and their caregivers as they play together in a step-by-step fashion.
  2. Trained community workers to deliver regular sessions for children and their caregivers.
  3. Delivered early learning support to 120 HIV-affected children aged 2-5 years.
  4. Adopted rigorous evaluation methods to understand the impact of the project on cognitive development and potential for scale-up.



The Bright Start project has already proven to be a great success. Parents and carers were asked what changes they have seen in their child:

  • 94% said their child was a lot happier
  • 96% said their child had more concentration
  • 97% said they had more self-confidence



Our Bright Start project costs £300 for each child, helping them to build their cognitive skills that are the building blocks for their future development.


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