Free money for TYO’s kitchen and library

Yet another Facebook challenge – this time, you get 20 (FREE) votes to choose the charity that ‘matters’ most, and Chase will give them up to $1,000,000. YES, that’s One Million Dollars.

As you may have been reading in the news, or our Twitter feed, Early Childhood Education matters. Especially for children growing up in poverty, amidst violence, or other stressful conditions, having access to high-quality programs during their earliest years is proven to improve their chances of doing better in school,having higher-paying jobs, and staying out of jail. As far as we’re concerned, those are results that matter!

So, especially today – International Children’s Day – take a second to vote for TYO and other child-focused charities in the Chase Community giving program. And spread the word :)

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Making school fun… Even on Saturdays!

DSC_7-11-2009 (42)

When they approached us this summer, Tomorrow’s Youth Organization was glad to respond to UNRWA’s request that we get involved in their Education Rehabilitation Plan. Concerned about falling rates of achievement in UNRWA schools, particularly in Arabic and Math, UNRWA’s central office in Jerusalem led the creation of a multi-year strategy to better support students who are struggling to pass standardized tests, beginning in Grade 3. Teacher training, de-centralization, and increased attention and care for children’s mental health are three focus areas of the strategy. The fourth is community engagement: leveraging the know-how and relationships of organizations in the schools’ communities to enrich the services that UNRWA is able to offer at-risk students.

In the context of this fourth pillar of the Education Recovery Plan, the TYO team spends each Saturday at a different UNRWA school. Two schools initially asked TYO to participate in their Saturday sessions, but word quickly spread, and we now divide Saturdays between three schools, with several others lining up for our services. As the program becomes more established, we hope to identify the resources needed to replicate the model of TYO’s involvement at other UNRWA schools in Nablus and elsewhere in the northern district.

For now, a dozen TYO-trained staff and volunteers from An Najah University each lead a group of students, from 6 to 16 years old, in games and activities designed to build teamwork, creativity, problem solving, and to provide an outlet for energy after spending an extra morning in tutoring sessions led by UNRWA teachers and volunteers.

Imad – TYO’s volunteer coordinator – along with Ahmad Hanani (health teacher) and Haitham Okeh (sports teacher) support TYO volunteers to plan activities each week, depending on what the students responded well to (or not!) during the previous session. He is now helping volunteers to work with older students on improving their school community: identifying first, the problems they observe, then possible solutions, and finally a feasible plan to address the most urgent problems that are within their control.

The Head Teachers of the schools where we’re working have expressed in no uncertain terms their gratitude for TYO’s contribution to their new Saturday sessions. Students are more likely to attend the optional programs to have a chance to participate in TYO-led activities; they focus better in the classroom in advance of the release provided by physical and social activities led by TYO; and the divides between cliques of students are fading as a result of their blending between different TYO groups (Imad wisely insisted on dividing them, rather than students choosing their own groups).

Congratulations to UNRWA on a great initiative to meet an important need of Palestinian children! Most importantly, credit is due for recognizing the value of engaging other community actors to support these at-risk students holistically, rather than trying to address their academic development with a monolithic approach. We look forward to continuing and expanding the cooperation between TYO and UNRWA in the service of Palestinian children’s academic and personal development!

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Photo of the Day: Why not Pink!

Pink BusYoussef, 7, rocks a very cool sweatshirt :-)

Photo of the Day: Ready, Set, Go!

Go!Morning Program participants enjoy a game with hats in Haitham’s class.

America’s Giving Challenge: Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who helped Tomorrow’s Youth Organization in America’s Giving Challenge. The competition was incredibly stiff, and we did not win a top prize. However, we finished in the top 2% of over 6,000 organizations who participated – a real achievement for us in our very first Giving Challenge!

And even more importantly, we raised so much awareness about our cause and organization! In the last month, I have talked to so many people who are excited about TYO and our work. Maggie, a former intern, emailed over 50 friends and family members about her experience at TYO last summer and asked them to donate. Triple Exposure Coordinator Doris recruited six of her friends as donors, all of whom are recent college graduates, which speaks to their philanthropic spirit. Maggie, Doris and other like them became the voice of TYO during this challenge. They shared their personal experiences in Nablus with others, impressing upon their audience the importance of our work, which they have seen firsthand. Further, 200 new friends joined our Cause on Facebook in the last month!

In total we had 100 donors and raised a total of $2,065! It was an incredible effort by all! These gifts will be put toward renovations for our Nablus Center, including an high-priority goal for 2010 to outfit our kitchen with basic equipment in order to offer more complete, nutritious meals for TYO participants, and basic nutrition and sanitation classes for our mothers.

Thank you everyone!

Chelsey

Chelsey is the Program Coordinator at TYO Nablus.

Intern Journal: My Introduction to Nablus

Wall Flowers

I have been teaching at TYO for two weeks now and I’ve been in Nablus for three. It already feels a bit like home.  Prior to classes, I had a weeklong orientation, which gave me a chance to meet local and international staff members and several translators and volunteers. I also tried to orient myself a bit to Nablus and to learn a few words in Arabic.  Not bad for one week!  This fall, I am teaching a fitness class for mothers and an art class for kids.  Ultimately, I am trying to create an environment where all my students can have fun, feel good, and express themselves.

Sports have always been a huge part of my life, and I am excited to share what I’ve learned with the moms of Nablus.

Originally, Bieta, my fellow intern, and I were scheduled to teach two different fitness classes at the same time.  Compelled by a number of factors, we decided to combine our classes. Now, the mothers have 45 minutes of cardio/aerobics with me followed by 45 minutes of dance with Bieta.  This not only allows all the mothers to benefit from both of our classes, but also lets us take each other’s classes as well.  It is really rewarding to teach the women a new move, and then watch them execute it successfully.  They are also slowly teaching me some Arabic, which is great for me and probably quite entertaining for them.

At times, my art class feels like a fitness class—these kids have a lot of energy!  With the help of my wonderful volunteers and translators, we have already done some excellent projects.  I find myself trying to channel every great teacher I can remember from my own school days.  With every project, my goal is to strike the perfect balance between structure and freedom. I want the kids to express themselves but not feel overwhelmed by the blank page in front of them.  Originally I had hoped to make Halloween masks in my Sunday class, but I wasn’t able to locate the supplies I needed in time.  At the last minute, I saw TripleX Coordinator Kelsey decorating her classroom door with paper flowers painted by her kids.  She suggested I try it with my kids as well.  I cut out a large circle and petals for each flower. During class, I let the kids paint the pieces one at a time.  Given their high energy, I figured they’d make a few flowers and be ready to do something else.  To my surprise, they loved the project so much that I had to ask the volunteers to cut out more flowers and other shapes so they could continue for the rest of class!  I was really happy with this project’s balance.  The kids were given a template, but they were able to paint any design they wanted on the petals.

When the kids return on Thursday, they will see how all their hard work came together. I hung their beautiful flowers and birds on the classroom’s walls.  Then, they will make the promised Halloween masks, and they might even get some Halloween candy.

-Nachel

Photo of the Day: Outdoor Play!

Outdoor ActivityThis morning the rain let up and the sun came out! Our Morning Program participants enjoyed an opportunity to go outside and make clay!

ClayClay!

Kelsey’s Crafts: Flower Card

Flower Card

How to make a Flower Card:

PREPARATIONS

Flowers1. Collect several flowers of different colors and shapes

Pressed Flowers2. Place the flowers near the crease of an open book and shut the book on the flowers
3. Make sure to stack other books or some form of weight on top of the book with the pressed flowers
4. Wait two or three days for the flowers to flatten and dry
5. After a few days have passed remove the flowers from the book

MAKING THE CARD

Two pieces of paper1. Give each student two pieces of poster paper

Card with a window2. Fold one piece of paper like a card and cut out a “window” in it
3. Trace the window cut out onto the other piece of poster paper so you know the area you’ll be gluing flowers to

Glue Flowers4. Glue the pressed flowers onto the poster paper
5. Cut out the dry flowers but be sure to leave extra space around the flowers to glue the paper into the card
6. Unfold the piece of poster paper with the window cut out of it
7. Put glue along the edges of the paper with the flowers and glue it onto the inside of the window

The Card8. Let it dry and refold the card accomplishing the look of a frame
9. Write something in your card and you’re done!

Kelsey’s Crafts is a TYO blog column on how to make simple and fun crafts with children out of things found around the house. Kelsey is the Co-Coordinator of Triple Exposure at TYO. She teaches several art classes to children and youth.

Photo of the Day: The Rain is Here!

Rainy DayWould you believe me if I told you I took this picture at 11:30 am?

In honor of this fall’s first rainy day–a poem!

Rain

I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can’t do a handstand–
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said–
I’m just not the same since there’s rain in my head.

-Shel Silverstein

Photo of the Day: Locococo

Volunteers play a gameVolunteer Coordinator Imad and several volunteers play Locococo, a game that encourages young people to explore, develop and discuss human rights and development issues.

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