SHARJAH, H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, has received the King Abdullah II Award for Excellence 2015-2016, a major award for child care.

The awards are held every two years in Jordan and accept submissions in three key categories: Art and Literature, Sciences and Arab City. Winners in each category receive US$25,000, a certificate of appreciation and a trophy from the King bearing the recipient's name and the title of the award.

The accolade, which was bestowed in the 'Arab City' category was given in recognition of the high quality report submitted by Sharjah Health Promotion Department, 'The Innovative Role of Sharjah in Childcare'.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al Muhairi, Director of Sharjah Health Authority, received the award on behalf of H.H. Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi from Dr. Hani Al Mulki, Prime Minister of Jordan. Held at the Al Hussein Cultural Centre in Amman on Monday, the award ceremony saw the participation of Dr. Abdul Raouf Al Rawabdeh, Chairman of the Awards' Board of Trustees, Aqel Biltaji, Mayor of Amman and Omar Al Lawzi, Director of Amman City at the Greater Amman Municipality.

The award acknowledged the instrumental role that Sheikha Jawaher plays in childcare and childhood protection in Sharjah. Following the directives of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, which support children and encourage investment in their creativity, Her Highness launched a number of initiatives and campaigns focused on child care and protection.

The study from the Sharjah Health Promotion Department highlighted Her Highness's tireless efforts in providing children with an ideal environment in Sharjah through initiatives that include the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, Sharjah Children Centres, Sharjah Youth Centre, Sharjah Children's Reading Festival and Sharjah Museums Department, which have been transformed into engaging educational and cultural destinations for children and families.

Given the great attention it pays to culture, healthcare and childhood, as well as its keenness to adopt Islamic teachings and to safeguard Arab heritage, Sharjah has been the recipient of a number of regional and international awards. In 1998 it won the title 'Cultural Capital of the Arab World' and in 2014 it was elected 'Islamic Cultural Capital.' It also secured the honour 'Arab Tourism Capital 2015,' the first 'Baby-Friendly City' in the same year and was approved as the 'First Healthcare City in the Middle East' by the International Healthcare Organisation.

Founded in the year 2000, the Supreme Council for Family Affairs features numerous organisations related to social and cultural development, family protection and family support. These include Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, Family Development Centre, Sharjah Social Empowerment Foundation, Media and Cultural Office, Sharjah Ladies Club, Children's Centres, Youth Centre, the Health Promotion, Friends of Cancer Patients, Friends of Diabetes Patients, Friends of Kidney Patients, Friends of Arthritis Patients, and Breastfeeding Friends.

Sharjah Health Promotion Department's report also addressed the Sharjah Baby-Friendly Campaign, which was launched in 2012 with the aim of promoting breastfeeding. The campaign extended to healthcare facilities, institutions, kindergartens and public venues, resulting in positive change. More than 140 entities in Sharjah were approved as baby-friendly and natural breastfeeding rates increased from 18% before the campaign to 40% following it. In conjunction with the campaign, Sharjah's Executive Council extended maternity leave for employees to 90 days for nationals and 60 days for non-national residents.

The study also explored the Sharjah Children Biennial, SCB, an affiliate of the Department of Children's Centres. Founded in 2008, SCB aims to enrich children's talents and hone their creative skills in the field of art, in addition to enhancing communication with children across the globe. The fourth edition of SCB saw its first charity auction, with proceeds going to the 'Ana' childhood cancer initiative from Friends of Cancer Patients.

Sharjah Youth Centre's smart projects were also highlighted in the report, which revealed how they deliver a variety of premium services. These include fidelity and membership cards that monitor and analyse the participation of young adults in different events and develop activities according to their needs. Youngsters earn fidelity points for each participation, with the accumulated points exchangeable for prizes or discounts. Another initiative was the 'Bareq Electronic System,' which sends alerts automatically to young adults as soon as they enter any Youth Centre, informing them about the daily activities and saving them the time needed for enquiries.

The report also addressed the second 'Afaq Leadership Camp' organised by the Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah in 2015 as part of its efforts to nurture the spirit of leadership in young girls and to develop their personal talents and self-confidence. Aimed at raising awareness about social responsibility towards society and national participation, the camp focuses on practical aspects as well as interactive methods, motivating young girls to undertake voluntary activities.

The cash prize for the 'Arab City' category will be donated to the 'Ameera Fund', launched recently by Sheikha Jawaher, to support cancer patients worldwide.

Source: Emirates News Agency