Changing Young Futures

by Steph Lambert

One of the key social justice projects that we have been involved in this past year is the After Schools project. After eight months we are encouraged by the progress that the 60 children participating in the project have made.

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We had aimed at reaching 7 – 14 year olds with this project, but there has also been a small number of 14 – 18 year olds who have participated in the project. The older ones had been kept back from progressing to the next year in the State system as they had not attained academic performance.  So this project has helped 60 children between 8 – 18 years old.

The teachers in the State school have been excited about the project as it helps them as the children are achieving better results in their normal schooling. We had a few hiccups along the way with a few students disengaging after six weeks due to disinterest, chaotic home environment and ill health. But our team was able to encourage them to get re-involved.

The feedback has been so encouraging with one child, who had shown little interest in writing, asked her mainstream school teacher what she had written on the board, so she could copy it down.  One of the project teachers reported, “I have received good feedback from the children.. From their responses I can see they love that we are involved and dedicated in working with them. They feel important and appreciated for what they do.”  Another project teacher said, “talking to their class teachers at school I understand from them that since the after school program began the children go to school more often than they did . They are more involved in the activities at school and they show more interest in what they do.”

The project has also sought to assist Roma children to feel equal with their Romanian peers in the State system.

When a child receives new notebooks, pencils, pens, painting brushes, etc. he/she feels like he/she is a true pupil. Because the other kids from the school who are not Roma always have what they need at school, the children when they receive a new school-bag with everything in it they enjoy going to school more than going with hands empty. They are happy every time when they ask for new notebooks, etc. when they need it. They feel proud of themselves.

We have learnt valuable lessons this year in how we can make the experience better for the children, the teachers and for us as a team.  These lessons are that if the children are given the opportunity, support and extra attention they are willing to learn, grow and acquire knowledge. They are encouraged to stay in school and not give up hope.  The children have responded very positively to the incentives system introduced which is reward system linked to their attendance.  We also have learnt that some children no matter how much we try to stimulate and encourage them to attend school they are not interested. This is caused mainly by the lack of interest their parents display but also because of the very difficult situations at home: alcoholism etc. which is having a negative effect on the childrens ability to learn. We of course continue to try and engage and encourage them to attend and work with the families directly to encourage this.

We have planned a fun week of sports activities and games for all the children in the program. We want to teach them team work and the value in helping each other for the benefit of the team. Also at the end of the school term we have planned a trip to the zoo for them which is a great incentive to help the children stay motivated and interested in attending and making progress in school.

We are so excited about how this first year has gone and are thankful to British & Foreign School Society and Woodward Charitable Trust for their investment in this amazing project. If you want to learn more about the project, please contact us on info@protonfoundation.com.


About the Author


Steph Lambert