Yellow Bus on Road Near City Buildings. Representational Image.
Yellow Bus on Road Near City Buildings. Representational Image. Max Avans/

GEMS (Global Education Management Systems) Education launched the "Family First" movement at GEMS World Academy in Dubai with the presence of Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.

The launch event on Thursday was also attended by Director-General of Dubai's Community Development Authority Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid.

During the event, Al Nahyan addressed some 500 GEMS family members including GEMS Education Founder Sunny Varkey, students, parents and grandparents.

The minister noted that family is the "most important building block of a peaceful, tolerant, and prosperous society," adding that GEMS Education's work will help families promote values such as peace, tolerance, fraternity and non-violence.

Furthermore, it will also help with personal and collective growth and achievement, emphasizing that these values are important in today's world.

"The emphasis in the Family First movement on the connection between children's mental health and their family life is particularly important. I commend GEMS schools, under the leadership of my friend, Sunny Varkey, for taking up this important challenge," he said, WAM reported.

He added, "I congratulate the faculty and staff at the schools for realizing their duty to engage families and to enhance their abilities to help their children live their lives with confidence and hope."

This movement encourages GEMS families to spend quality time with each other and explore the wealth of knowledge and wise counsel within the home unit as it often goes undiscovered.

Talking about the Family First execution, it will hold a monthly TED Talk-style discussion on different aspects of family support by leading experts and proponents from around the world.

Meanwhile, Varkey also shared his own personal experience of valuing during the event.

"As I get a little older, I start to realize that the most important things in life are the family relationships we have. In all my travels, I have noticed that in developing economies there is a real family bond – of love and dependence. To me, this is the norm," Varkey said.

"However, in wealthier nations, I see people more isolated as they pursue their individual goals. It is good to dream but you mustn't forget those that gave you the chance to dream in the first place – your families," he added.

Varkey pointed out that those families who stand together united are very strong.

He questioned those who say elders in the house are "merely dependents," have they ever seen grandparents play with their grandchildren? He stressed that elders are the "essential anchors of stability and guidance."