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Photos! Photos! Photos!

Art!, originally uploaded by tyo_nablus.

We just posted several hundred photos on our flickr account from the summer session. Ever wonder what our classrooms are like? Ponder how does TYO incorporate recycled and found materials? Check out our photostream to see photos of our imagination stations, including a doctor’s office, a bank and a market.

The photos are sure to put a smile on your face and make you want to jump in and play too.

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Midterm Impact Report, Summer 2009

Midterm Impact Report, Summer 2009 Session

During the fifth week of our summer programs, a letter was sent home with a random sample of 20 Morning Core Program participants inviting their parents to attend a discussion. TYO Psychosocial Specialist Suhad Jabi facilitated a focus group later that week with five mothers and one father of ten TYO participants.  The focus group was an open discussion in which the parents introduced themselves and discussed their level of satisfaction with the program, changes in their children’s behavior and suggestions for future program development.  Suhad described the conversation as enthusiastic, lively and organic.  The following Midterm Impact Report was compiled from testimonies given by those parents.

TYO compares initial, midterm and final parent surveys and focus groups to determine the impact of its program on each child and identify which children could benefit from further services either from TYO or by referral.  Please check back later this week for our Final Impact Report for the summer session.  The full text of the midterm report and past reports can be found in the Results section of our homepage.

After four weeks of the program, we see concrete and significant change in many of our children, especially in the following areas:

–    Age-appropriate sociability with peers and adults,
–    Appropriate behavior (including the disappearance of bed wetting problems),
–    Improved vocabulary and increased vocalization and self-esteem

Abu Sami, father of Gofran, age 4, Balata refugee camp
My daughter, Gofran, used to be selfish—wanting everything in her hands. She never shared and was aggressive with her siblings. My children would always fight and there was never any peace in our home.  Despite my encouragement, they never managed their studies well. Now, Gofran is more cooperative and less aggressive.  I see her respecting other children and finishing her tasks with more care. She is outspoken and shares stories with me about her classroom and her teacher Rana [TYO’s art teacher.]  She told me that when she is upset she wants to talk to Rana about her anger. She no longer has nightmares.

Om Ehab, mother of twins Sadeel and Sandee, age 5, Askar refugee camp
Both Sandeel and Sandee have bed-wetting problems.  During their first session [at TYO], the problem decreased to around three times a week.  After the first week of this session, they both stopped completely. My daughters are happier and cooperate with each other much better. They are always talking about their teacher Rana [TYO’s art teacher.]

Om Mohammad, mother of Mohammad, age 5, Khallet al-Amood
My son used to be a rude child.  He created many problems in the neighborhood.  He was difficult to talk with and aggressive.  He is a tough kid. I have always been a bit surprised that TYO doesn’t send him home.  Many times I have wanted to visit the TYO Center, but I do not come because I am afraid that I will hear the staff complaining about my son. I am very satisfied with the program.  Now, Mohammed is better in every category.  He has become polite, much calmer and sweet.  He is more expressive and articulate about his ideas. Sometimes I cannot believe I am talking with a five-year-old kid.

Last Day Celebration!

Mother and Daughter Look at Art

On Wednesday, 12 August 2009 Tomorrow’s Youth Organization celebrated United Nations’ International Youth Day on the last day of our eight-week summer session. Over 500 community members came to the TYO Center in Nablus to view their children’s artwork and enjoy a series of performances and exhibitions, including dabka and athletic performances, an experiment by TYO’s “Mad Scientists” and a performance by a group of clowns from Askar refugee camp.  The Center was filled not only with the exuberant colors of childhood art but also the laughter and shouts of children and families enjoying their time together.

A special thanks to the TYO volunteers who put forth an extraordinary effort in preparing and carring out the event. Congrats to the volunteers on their 100% participation in this event.

Please check out our flickr account for more pictures of this event. Video footage will also be posted on our youtube channel in the coming days.

Mothers receive seeds to plantHousesClownBoy Laughing

TYO Celebrates Refugee Children’s Achievements on UN International Youth Day

Please join us in celebrating UN International Youth Day and the last day of our summer session on 12 August 2009 from 1:00 – 4:00 PM at the Zafer al-Masri Foundation Building in Khallet al-Amood, Nablus.  The text of our press release follows. You can also download the press release in English and عربي PDFs on our homepage.

August 6, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AMERICAN NON-PROFIT IN NABLUS CELEBRATES REFUGEE CHILDREN’S ACHIEVEMENTS ON UN INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY

(NABLUS, West Bank) Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO) celebrates United Nations’ International Youth Day on Wednesday, 12 August 2009 in conjunction with the last day of its eight-week summer session. A series of performances and exhibitions, including dabka and athletic performances, an experiment by TYO’s “Mad Scientists” and an art exhibition highlighting the work and interests of young people will take center stage at the Zafer al-Masri Foundation Building in Khallet al-Amood, Nablus from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.  Over 300 participants from the summer program will participate, along with their families.  Journalists and the public are invited to attend.

International Youth Day is of particular significance in Nablus where over 50 percent of the population is under 25 years old.  This year’s theme, “Sustainability: Our Challenge, Our Future,” resonates with TYO’s community-based approach to early childhood education in which children, youth, university students and parents are engaged to work for positive social change.  Sustainability requires that the rising generation have the necessary leadership, communication, and problem solving skills for productive lives as parents, professionals and citizens.

“The people of Nablus are stubbornly hopeful. Their children have grown up amidst the worst years this city has known; yet, as parents, they remain optimistic. The kids and youth who participate in TYO programs personify this hope,” said international director Nell Derick Debevoise.  “The life skills, like creativity and openness, that they learn within TYO’s safe, child-centered environment, coupled with resilience and positive thinking, will enable them to lead their families in improving their community.”

The Summer 2009 Session, which began on June 14, has been an incredible success. Over 100 4- to 8-year-olds from the most marginalized areas of Nablus participate in a holistic, psychosocial program including sports, computer and health lessons. About 200 other Nablus residents (from 6 years to adult) enjoy classes led by five American interns, including science, creative arts, fitness and dance. Approximately 45 service-minded university students volunteer in TYO’s classrooms as role models.

Since beginning operations in March 2008, TYO has established itself as an innovative and effective American organization poised to make a significant difference in the quality of life for marginalized children in Nablus, and soon other locations in the West Bank and Middle East.

For more information about the celebration, please contact Chelsey Berlin at +970/2 (0)598207978 or chelsey@tomorrowsyouth.org.

SOW Journal: Reflection on the First Day

The first day at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO) was a great success. The Summer 2009 Session marks the beginning of a Holistic Integrated Approach to early childhood education within TYO’s program for early childhood development. Since the end of April, the Core Program teachers have worked with educators and trainers from MaDad to develop a program that encourages children to create their own environments, curriculum and goals. This child centered approach pushes the child to tell his own story at an age when he may not have an outlet for his voice. The program provides an opportunity for children to become protagonists in their own biographies, education and future. Additionally, the new approach in theory and practice here at TYO integrates families in conversations with the children to better understand, narrate, and expand their personal biographies and opportunities.

Children at TYO educate themselves about subjects they choose and tell their own stories—a form of self-guided therapy. In a setting where psychosocial problems are the norm, their energy and resiliency is outstandingly evident.

On the first day, the Core Program teachers and students focused on actively appreciating their new space.  In order to teach the students about respecting themselves and their environment, the teachers began their classes with a cleaning activity allowing the children to take part in preparing the class for the day’s first activity.  Likewise, at the end of the day the children cleaned their space as well.  This practice of respect and responsibility for one’s environment instills in the children a sense of the classroom rules without lecturing or disciplining—it becomes second nature. I observed Ahmad’s class as he, his volunteers and the participants cleaned, decorated and learned about the space they will use for the rest of the summer.

With in the influx of several American interns, TYO is able to offer lessons in photography, creative writing and creative visual arts to children and youth.  The participants in these classes learn therapeutic skills that will allow them to tell their stories long after their instructors leave. Indeed, these skills are instrumental to TYO’s sustainable long-term goals of bringing their approach into the home.

The children warmed up to the staff and interns quickly. They began journaling their experiences in Kelsey’s Summer Camp. In Doris’ “Nabulsi Explorers” class, students had the opportunity to tell their own stories by learning basics in photography and how to critique each others’ work. Shahla’s “Mad Scientist” class allowed students to draw subjects they wished to learn about in class. When a few students commented that they had never drawn before. All I could think was: What kind of future can a child who has never drawn before imagine? This is the true importance of TYO’s work providing children with the skills to represent themselves through documentation, visual and narrative arts.

-Danny

Danny is a member of the New York University chapter of Students of the World, a volunteer film crew, spending one month with TYO in Nablus documenting the first weeks of the TYO summer program.

First Day of the Summer 2009 Session!

On Sunday, June 14, 2009 Tomorrow’s Youth Organization began its Summer 2009 Session in Nablus.  Approximately 180 children are registered for the Morning and Afternoon Core Programs.  An additional, 170 youth and 40 women are enrolled in classes taught by the five International Interns.  As part of an intensive four-month training program lead by MaDad, the Core Program teachers spent the last several weeks focusing on revamping their programs to focus on the Holistic Integrated Approach to early childhood education.  Similarly, the teachers and interns have transformed TYO’s classrooms and shared spaces into enriching, safe and familiar spaces.  The first day of the session was met with excitement and enthusiasm.  The Core Program participants, the majority of whom attended TYO in the spring, were awed by the changes.  The teachers were motivated by their energy and eagerness.  Additionally, under the leadership of Imad Mansour, the Volunteer Program is off to a great start.  Fifty-one service-minded students from An Najah University will join the TYO team as volunteers. It was a fantastic beginning to an important summer for all!

TYO is grateful to the National Beverage Company who generously donated juice boxes to keep the children happy and hydrated during the first day!

Ahmad, Health Teacher
The children weren’t as anxious as they were last session.  Today was a first day unlike any other.  As the children entered our Center, they ran excitedly to their previous classrooms  They didn’t know we had made changed so we had to help them get to the right class, but they were so eager. They asked so many questions.  I was so satisfied with my first day. It was incredible to bring the children into our redesigned space and feel their excitement and hear them express their happiness.

Please click to read more about the team’s thoughts on the first day! Continue reading