Kids’ clubs and caregiver psychosocial support groups
Context: Displacement, urban refugees
Objective: To promote the well-being of refugee children and their families by training and equipping local partners to provide accessible and age-appropriate education and recreational activities for refugee children and their caregivers. The project was initially set up to target children ages 3 to 7, but extended the project to reach children up to 10.
Kids’ Clubs: Provide children with a place to come and play with other children, engage in learning activities, and receive support from trained facilitators who are able to help children and make connections to additional support services if a child is in need of special assistance.
The children’s curriculum is a 36-week programme (3 terms, with 12 sessions per term). The sessions include the following:
- time for free play at the beginning (30 minutes)
- welcome and review of last week’s lessons (participatory with the children)
- health lesson (with games)
- life skills lesson (with games)
- school skills lesson
- psychosocial components are integrated throughout the curriculum.
The health lessons include sessions on basic health, hygiene, nutrition, child rights, caring for our environment, feelings, and other relevant health topics.
Caregiver psychosocial support: Support groups for mothers and caregivers operate as a parallel programme, allowing mothers to connect, talk and receive counselling while their children participate in the child protection programme. World Relief trains women from the community to facilitate groups themselves in an effort to promote healing, empowerment and the strengthening of relationships among the women. The curriculum complements the lessons the children are learning and provides women with a space to share their experiences, receive peer support and learn about different topics.
Why this project?
- Local churches expressed a desire to reach out to the refugee children in their community, and the stated needs of the refugee families they were serving. Churches also felt that it was within their capacity to respond, given that they already had kids’ programmes as part of their church services.
- At the time, there were very limited educational opportunities for refugee children ages 3 to 7.
- Children’s routines were disrupted and many were spending all day at home, with limited opportunities to play safely, interact with other children or receive educational support.
“I like everything about the club, even the path that takes me there, because it takes me to the club.”
Mourad, aged 5
Children have a safe place to play and learn. By re-establishing routines and a sense of normality, the distress children experience is alleviated. Club volunteers describe how much children change as they participate in the club – they play more, laugh more and participate in activities. Mothers also express how the clubs have had a positive impact on their children.
“We have made so many friends. One day a week, I walk into this place and I can breathe.”
Rasha, Mothers’ Group Participant
Women are happy to have a place to come and share with one another. They are able to talk about their experiences and worries and learn with their children – and the friendships formed in the groups extend beyond the club. Participants have shared that they are grateful to learn that other women are experiencing similar challenges.
The project design encourages relationships between the host and refugee communities. It relies on community engagement in the form of volunteers, space for the club and educating the community about the programme.
- World Relief was implementing only with local churches, but this ended up limiting the reach of the programme. Churches were limited in their capacity to grow and expand clubs, due both to volunteer engagement and geographic limitations. Expanding the programme to CBOs or even directly to members of the community has yielded good results, and they are now making the implementation model more inclusive. Local churches, CBOs and members of the community are supported to facilitate the Onwards and Upwards programme.
- Churches requested that volunteers be paid a stipend. World Relief realised that the stipend being paid to volunteers was quite high and have since changed the model si it no longer includes this stipend. Some volunteers left, but many are still engaged without the stipend, which is a more sustainable model.
- World Relief’s emphasis was on the health components of the curriculum. While the health concerns and issues within the refugee community are significant, there is less of a pressing awareness from mothers and caregivers for these topics to be addressed in the club. Rather they see the emphasis as being on school skills and school-like education. Reflecting on this difference in expectation, World Relief worked to address the reasons and benefits behind having holistic curriculum at the very start of the caregivers’ groups, encouraging them to see the value of this approach. Their reflection showed the need to increase the school skills component in each club and add more aspects of `formal’ education, such as writing Arabic letters. This was trialled during the final phase of the pilot with good success and positive responses from caregivers and children.
- The curriculum for the kids’ club can be shared on request
- The caregivers’ curriculum is being revised based on feedback from the pilot phase
Onwards and Upwards was developed in partnership with World Relief