Childhoods fit for children and the Alana model



 Alana is a socio-environmental impact organization that promotes children’s rights and fosters new forms of well being. It is organized along three fronts: the Alana Institute, the AlanaLab, and the Alana Foundation. The Alana Institute was born with the mission to ‘honor the children’ and is the origin of all the work that began in 1994 in Jardim Pantanal, a vulnerable community in the city of São Paulo’s eastern outskirts. AlanaLab is Alana’s core business, with a focus on impact and innovation. The Alana Foundation is a philanthropic organization founded in 2012 in the United States that invests in research in the areas of health, inclusive education and environment. It also fosters global movements such as Believe, Earth and Children and Nature and identifies opportunities for partnerships and co-investment for Alana.

 Through all three, Ana Lúcia Villela, the creator of Alana, promotes the causes of healthy childhood development in Brazil through the first citizen-led mechanisms to regulate the advertizing industry. Her aim is to empower society to honor children and to protect them from the harmful effects of an increasingly consumerist culture, such as childhood obesity and materialism. Ana Lúcia has always been committed to the field of childhood development and with creating an environment where children can thrive. She believes that consumerist culture is one of the main problems in achieving this and that it has led to the commercialization of childhood. Research has shown that advertisements have led to over-consumption by children: Girls are maturing sexually earlier than they would otherwise and children are gaining weight, socializing less and overvaluing things over experiences. 

 In 2005 Ana Lúcia created Projeto Criança e Consumo (Children and Consumerism Project), which is housed within the Alana Institute. This is the first project of its kind in Brazil to spark a debate about the effects of ads on childhood development and to challenge the legal framework that allows the advertizing industry to profit by targeting a young audience. One of the tasks that she has set herself is to ensure that kids can soon begin to enjoy commercial free childhoods. In order to do so, Ana Lúcia has created channels of communication to give the public access to news and information about this topic and equip them with the tools they need to take action against marketing abuses. She is also working with influential decision-makers, such as government and big advertizing companies, to change their approaches and introduce new norms to regulate the publicity industry.

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