Children s participation: the Child-to-Child learning process

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1 P A R T Children s participation: the Child-to-Child learning process 1. INTRODUCTION TO ACTIVITY TOPICS Being inclusive of all children The activities in this section are intended to include all children in a community and at school. No child should feel excluded on any grounds. In most cases, a collection of children come together to form a club or group to lead the activities, or a teacher may work with a specific class within a school. The adult facilitator needs to ensure that the activities include all kinds of children: girls and boys with and without disabilities, orphans and non-orphans, children who are financially better off and those who are less well off. The activities can be adapted to suit any situation and the needs of particular groups of children. Every child has something special to offer from his or her own experience, and will gain a sense of self-esteem from the opportunity to help others. Including children with low literacy While some of the activities require reading and writing, most can be adapted for children with little or no reading ability. For example, the needs assessment exercise on page 25 can be done with pictures to represent the various problems. The scale of numbers can be represented by beans or stones. Even for children who can read, it is often fun to work with images and objects rather than always using writing. Activities should include all children Part : Child-to-Child learning Page 17

2 PART CHILD-TO-CHILD LEARNING PROCESS Gaining community support It is vital that parents, guardians and community leaders are consulted about, and involved in, activities for children. In most contexts, the active participation of children is only possible with the active support of adults. In communities affected by HIV and AIDS, everyone needs to pull together to help the most vulnerable children. One of the main factors in building children s resilience (their ability to cope) is having close communication with a trusted adult. It is therefore essential that you talk with parents, guardians and community leaders before starting the activities, to ensure that you have their permission and support. Each activity topic in this book has ideas about how to involve adults and gain their support and understanding. 2. PREPARING THE GROUP Getting to know each other Depending on your situation, the group may already know each other well, or they may be coming together for the first time. At the first few meetings, it is important that the children are helped to relax and trust each other. There are many fun games for getting to know each other better and to learn names. Some examples are given in the box on the right. Building trust The children will be talking about issues of HIV and AIDS and how they affect their communities and families. At their first meetings they will therefore need to build up trust among themselves as a group so that they can learn to support each other. The box on the right contains some ideas for these activities. Games to help children get to know each other The children work together as a group to create a statue of a tree, or a machine where all the parts are moving together. The children sort themselves into a line from the smallest to the tallest, or from A to Z based on the first letter of their names. Everyone stands or sits in a circle. One child has an object, like a ball. They say their own name and then throw the ball to another child, calling out the other child s name as they throw. This continues until all the children have had a turn. The children stand in a circle and take it in turns to suggest a part of the body they can use to write their name a hand, their nose, a foot, etc. All the children then try to write their name using the relevant body part. Trust building games to play with children Everyone sits in a circle and takes turns to state one reason why they are happy that the person sitting on their left is in the group. In pairs, the children take it in turns to be blindfolded and led by their partner around the room, without bumping into anything. Discuss with the children how it feels to rely on somebody else. Did they trust each other? What would help them to trust? Everyone stands in a circle, holding hands, except two children who remain outside the circle. Without letting go, the children in the circle move around to tie themselves into a knot. The two children remaining outside try to sort out the knot, without breaking the hands. Next time, all the children make the knot together and jointly sort it out. Discuss why it was easier the second time. Page 18 Part : Child-to-child learning

3 Agreeing and respecting ground rules During the sessions, the children may be sharing things that are sensitive or personal to them. It is very important that group members agree to, and abide by, ground rules that help them all feel that they are in a safe and supportive place. Ask the children to brainstorm the list of rules they think are important for working together. Divide them into groups and ask them to complete the following sentence: To make this group a good, safe and happy place to learn and share our ideas, we must: always... never... Make a list of their suggestions once they have finished, add any additional ideas which you think are important from the example of ground rules in the box. Keep the ground rules pasted on the wall. Every few weeks, the group can return to the list and consider whether they are keeping to the rules. Do any need to be changed or added? Sometimes, some of the ground rules may be broken. It is helpful to hold regular circle time when the children sit in a circle with the teacher or facilitator and discuss things that worry them. The box on the right shows a process which can be used with children to help them resolve conflicts. Examples of ground rules Respect each other s ideas even if we don t agree Listen to each other kindly Have just one person speaking at once Help each other Never be unkind to another or call them unkind names Use positive ways to resolve any conflicts and disagreements Never pass on secrets or private information that has been shared in the group (unless the child is in danger of abuse and needs help from an adult). Steps for resolving conflicts Each child goes through the following steps, also listening to the other child s point of view: Step 1: Say what has upset you and why. I felt... when you... Step 2: Say what you think the other child wants or has been upset by and why. I understand you felt... because... Step 3: Say what you would like the other child to do in future. In future I ask you to... Step 4: Agree on the solutions Part : Child-to-Child learning Page 19

4 PART CHILD-TO-CHILD LEARNING PROCESS Confidentiality and disclosure of HIV status In communities with high rates of HIV and AIDS, everybody is affected in some way, and many people are unaware of their HIV status. HIV is preventable and it is important for everyone to understand and talk about it. If any children in the group know that their family members are living with HIV or that they themselves are HIV positive, they will need guidance to think very carefully about whether they want to disclose this information to the group. They will need help and counselling from a trusted adult to consider the advantages and disadvantages of disclosure. Even if other children in the group learn to be sensitive, children outside the group may still discriminate and stigmatise. 3. CHILD-TO-CHILD APPROACHES Children s participation Child-to-Child approaches encourage children to participate in promoting health and development among themselves, other children, their families and their communities. Child-to-Child is based on an active learning approach which links what children learn to the actions they can take in the community. Children are helped to identify priority needs and research how these affect their families and communities. They then get support to help them plan and take action, evaluate the impact of their work and consider how they could do better next time. It is very important that the children in the group understand the meaning of confidentiality. They need to know that things confided in the group are not to be discussed with others outside. You could use role play situations to help the children understand how it helps children to have friends they can trust. You could also use role play to show how damaging it can be for confidentiality to be broken. Emotional support for teachers and facilitators Working with children in communities affected by HIV and AIDS can also be emotionally stressful for the adult teachers and facilitators. Reflect on the impact this work is having on you and make sure that you have others with whom you can share your concerns and get support. Children are involved in planning and action Page 20 Part : Child-to-Child learning

5 Child-to-Child approaches help to promote supportive peer networks among children. The activities can also help adults to recognise children s needs and capacities and show the value of working in partnership with children. Adults who work with children in this way are often surprised by the extent of children s capabilities. Child-centred approaches identify not only children s needs and vulnerabilities, but also the positive coping skills that enable them to help themselves and other children to survive and find a positive future. get together a few weeks later to discuss and evaluate the effectiveness of their actions: What went well and what did not go so well? Why? What changes have they noted in themselves, in other children, in their school and community? This process helps them to learn from experience and plan how to do it better next time. Child-to-Child approaches: linking learning with life The Child-to-Child materials suggest ways of planning a series of activities, or a string of lessons, which link learning with life. These are often presented as four or six steps, although these are not fixed and can be adapted to suit the context. The key thing is that children relate the issue to their own lives and participate in decisions, planning what action to take, and evaluating their actions. It is important that children have an opportunity to take action and then reflect on these actions. In this manual, each topic has a list of activities that are organised in four steps: Understanding the issue, Finding out more about how it affects our lives, Planning and taking action and Evaluating what we have done and doing it better. In the Child-to-Child step approach, adult teachers or facilitators support children to: choose the health or social issue that is a priority to them, and understand it well find out more about the issue, particularly how it affects them as children, their family and their community, and discuss the results of what they have discovered plan and take action, either individually (I can) or with other children (we can) Drama is a powerful way to raise issues for discussion Part : Child-to-Child learning Page 21

6 PART CHILD-TO-CHILD LEARNING PROCESS THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN IN FAMILIES AFFECTED BY HIV AND AIDS Step 1: Understanding the issue In a social studies class, the students learn what happens to children when their parents or guardians have HIV and HIV-related illness by reading and discussing stories or discussing the case studies from The River of Hope video (see the contacts and resources section, page 123). Step 2: Finding out more about how it affects our lives The children discuss the problems they face, and those faced by other children affected by HIV and AIDS. Some children are directly affected by HIV or AIDS in their own families, while other children know friends, neighbours, teachers and other people who are living with HIV and HIV-related illness. By visiting children who have dropped out of school because their parents are sick or have died, the children learn about the problems they face and the help they need. They also find out what support is available for children from community-based organisations and local faith-based organisations. The children discuss what they have learnt and plan what action they can take to support each other at school and to help those children who are not able to come to school. Step 3: Planning and taking action The children prepare posters, songs and a drama to show the situation of children affected by HIV and AIDS in their families. They also plan what practical help they can give each other at school, and orphans and other vulnerable children who cannot come to school. The head teacher, Child-to- Child teacher and other staff members provide support for the children s plans. The children organise a special event for children and adults at their school and in the wider community, where they display their posters, perform their drama, teach their song and hold discussion groups. Their teachers support them by facilitating discussion with adults. The children tackle discrimination and seek to ensure that all children are included in learning and play activities at school and at home. The children also make contributions to a small fund that can be used to help fellow students who have difficulties in paying for expenses such as stationery. They motivate their families to help other children in need with food, clothing and emotional support. They also seek material support for child-headed households from local organisations. Step 4: Evaluating what we have done and doing it better One month later, the children discuss any changes they have noticed at school and in the community. They visit the children who have dropped out of school again, to find out whether they now receive more support and understanding from other children. They discuss what further action needs to be taken and what they can do better. The children continue with these activities using all opportunities, individually and as a group, to help each other cope with the impact of HIV and AIDS. Page 22 Part : Child-to-Child learning

7 The Child-to-Child step approach in action The example on the previous page shows how the Child-to-Child steps can be used in a school setting to respond to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. The example on the left and the Child-to-Child diagram on the right show that the learning process moves between the learning place (classroom or youth group, etc) and the living place (home and community). Information is gathered in the community and then discussed in the class or group. Actions are planned in the classroom or club meeting and then take place in the school playground, at home or in the community. Teachers and facilitators need to plan for classroom-based sessions and for actions that take place in between these sessions. This kind of planning may be new for teachers and they may want some initial training in the Child-to-Child approach. See the contacts and resources section (page 123) for more information about training opportunities. Teachers can introduce Child-to-Child activities through health education lessons, or in other subjects, such as social studies, language and science. Teachers may also work with the children from the school health club, while community-based facilitators may work with youth groups, scouts and guides, faith-based children s groups and other clubs for children and young people. The example from Uganda on the right demonstrates how children in a school health club worked on a topic using the Child-to-Child step approach. The Child-to-Child approach can be adapted to address the wide range of problems children face in communities affected by HIV and AIDS. Part : Child-to-Child learning Page 23

8 PART CHILD-TO-CHILD LEARNING PROCESS GOOD FOOD AND CARE FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV Step 1: Understanding the issue The children read about the importance of good nutrition to keep healthy, especially for people living with HIV and those who are sick with HIV-related illnesses. Step 2: Finding out more about this issue in our lives They invited a health worker to the club meeting, and asked her about locally available low-cost food that would be particularly helpful for people living with HIV and for those who were ill. They also discussed ways of encouraging sick children to eat healthily. The children did a survey to find out the kind of food members of the group and other vulnerable children in the school (particularly orphans) had eaten in the last week. They found out the problems children have in getting food. Step 3: Planning and taking action The children discussed and planned what action they could take, which included: gathering examples of healthy food and practising cooking a healthy meal which can be eaten easily by a sick child making posters, which they took home to explain to their family and neighbours asking the head teacher to change arrangements so that weaker and younger children were taken to the front of the line to get their food during school meals collecting small funds to pay for some additional nutritious food for orphans who do not get much food at home the head teacher arranged for the additional food growing green leafy vegetables in pots and any small space of land at home and at school convincing some of their parents to provide food for neighbouring orphans at least once a week. Step 4: Evaluating what we have done and doing it better After a few weeks the children got together in their club to discuss what they had achieved and whether it had made any difference. They checked their knowledge of healthy food, and observed whether the vulnerable children were getting their food at school. They also visited friends in their neighbourhood to see whether they had changed their diets, using the food grown at home. They planned what else they could do to help children have healthier diets. Children can encourage sick children to eat healthily Page 24 Part : Child-to-Child learning

9 4. CHILDREN DOING A NEEDS ASSESSMENT The Child-to-Child approach promotes a very simple process that helps children analyse their needs and decide which topic to address. This process has two stages: Stage one: the children discuss and write a list for example, of problems faced by children in families affected by HIV and AIDS. Stage two: they then discuss and fill in a chart to analyse these problems, using it to find out how important each problem is to their activities. They then add up the totals, which help them decide on their priorities for action. Here is an example of a completed needs assessment chart. Every group should carry out its own needs assessment, as every community is different. Problem How serious? How common? Children drop out of school to look after their sick parents or guardians 5 4 How much can children do? 3 children can help each other to keep up with school work; they can encourage each other to come to school and help with household chores after school TOTAL SCORE 12 Below is an empty chart. The children work with the facilitator or teacher to complete the chart, awarding scores out of five according to how serious and common they think each problem is, and how much they feel they can do as children. Problem How serious? How common? How much can children do? TOTAL SCORE Orphaned children are isolated and teased children can teach each other about HIV and AIDS; help others understand how orphans feel; and make sure they are included in play 15 Orphans do not have enough good food to eat children can help orphans to get food at school, and ask their families to provide extra food for neighbouring orphans 12 Relatives take orphans' inheritance children can learn about inheritance rights, and perform a drama that will encourage adults to make wills and protect the inheritance of orphans 10 Part : Child-to-Child learning Page 25

10 PART CHILD-TO-CHILD LEARNING PROCESS This process helps children to choose the most important topics, where they feel that they can make a difference. In the example given on the previous page, children felt that they could make the most difference by challenging the stigma of orphans. They felt that they could make the least difference promoting children s inheritance rights. This is an area where they would need more support from adult community leaders. The same method can be used with parents and other community members. If the priorities of children and adults are matched, there will be more active support for children s actions in the community. 5. SELECTING AND PLANNING TOPICS The topics presented in Part I have been identified through work with children: the list contains the issues that they considered to be the most important in communities affected by HIV and AIDS. This manual cannot cover all the topics in detail, but it does give some ideas for activities to promote the participation of children in analysing and taking action. The contacts and resources section on page 123 suggests some useful materials, which go into more depth on specific issues. The topics have been sequenced, starting with less sensitive issues, such as friendship, to help build trust and cooperation in the group. Groups can use the topics in this order, or they may wish to select topics which are of particular priority to their communities. Facilitators can use the needs assessment process suggested in section four to help children decide which topics are the most important for them. However, it is a good idea to start with less sensitive topics while the children and facilitators or teachers build their confidence. These are the activity topics: 1. All about me and my family 2. Me and my friends 3. Helping all children feel included 4. How HIV and AIDS affect children s lives 5. Let s talk together about HIV and AIDS 6. Let s talk with our parents and guardians 7. Keeping our good memories 8. Supporting parents and guardians 9. Making plans for the future 10. Raising funds and protecting our inheritance 11. Living healthily with HIV 12. Coping together with loss 13. Challenging child abuse 14. Understanding and helping younger children 15. Facing the future together The activities in each topic are arranged in the Child-to-Child step learning process: Step 1: Understanding the issue Step 2: Finding out more about how it affects our lives Step 3: Planning and taking action Step 4: Evaluating what we have done and doing it better Planning a series of sessions The facilitator or teacher can select and adapt activities to suit the group of children and the local situation. These activities should relate to, and build on, each other so that they create a string of lessons, following the Child-to-Child learning steps: Page 26 Part : Child-to-Child learning

11 Step 1: the facilitator decides on the best activities that will help the children to understand the issues Step 2: they then guide the children through a series of activities to help them find out more about how the issues affect their lives Steps 3 and 4: it is important to encourage children to take the lead in planning and taking action, and in evaluating the results of their action. On the next page is an example of a planning framework for four sessions or lessons and related community activities, based on the ideas given in Topic 14: Understanding and helping younger children. It shows how activity ideas in certain topics can be used to plan your own lessons or sessions. Appendix five (page 120) contains an empty planning framework, which you may copy and use for your own planning. Adapting methods to your context People reading this manual will be working in many different contexts. You may be supporting staff who work at community level; teaching in schools or in non-formal education centres; or working with youth groups, scouts and guides, street children programmes, health clubs, life skills groups, HIV and AIDS education clubs, etc. You may be working with young children, or with adolescents. The methods and approaches discussed in this manual have been used with children in different situations. While we hope that you will find many of the ideas useful, it is important that you adapt them and create your own variations to suit your own context. Children can analyse and prioritise their problems Part : Child-to-Child learning Page 27

12 PART CHILD-TO-CHILD LEARNING PROCESS FRAMEWORK FOR PLANNING ACTIVITIES Objectives: By the end of this topic children should: Know: The basic needs of children under eight in families affected by HIV and AIDS: for food, simple health care, love and play Do: Help to look after and play with younger children Feel: Confident and positive about helping younger children FIRST SESSION Understanding the issue Show and talk about the picture provided for topic 14 (page 129). Tell and discuss the story of Daudi, a two-year old boy whose mother is sick (see page 80). In groups, children discuss ways in which they could help Daudi, and make a list. Groups choose one action that would help Daudi and role play that action. SECOND SESSION Finding out more Invite the health worker to visit and answer children s questions about caring for young children. She or he can explain about food and health care for young children. Plan a survey for children in pairs to observe five children (aged four or under) and note what makes them happy, sad or cross. For example, singing makes them happy; being left alone makes them sad. Discuss how to tell what young children are feeling from their behaviour and expressions. THIRD SESSION Discussing results and planning action Back in class, children share their survey findings. They draw a chart to show what makes young children happy or sad. With the teacher s support, children discuss and plan what action they want to take, based on what they have found out. For example, children list the games, songs and rhymes which young children enjoy and share their ideas with each other. They plan a weekly activity with the younger children from their close neighbourhood. COMMUNITY-BASED ACTIVITY: Taking action In groups, children gather the younger children from their close neighbourhood once a week. They sing songs, say rhymes and play games with them. Children make simple toys out of waste material, such as a doll from maize leaves, or a drum from an old tin, and play with younger children at home. FOURTH SESSION Evaluating our action and planning how to do it better Children discuss: Are we playing more and talking more with young children? What activities have the little children enjoyed most? What activities have we enjoyed most? How can we continue this work and do even better? COMMUNITY-BASED ACTIVITY: Finding out more Children conduct their survey in pairs over a weekend. Page 28 Part : Child-to-Child learning

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