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Helping 100 Children At-Risk in Payatas, The Philippines

Child at-risk in Payatas

In February 2018, our partner Fairplay For All Foundation launched a project we’re co-funding aimed at helping 100 children living in poverty and at-risk in Payatas, The Philippines. The project intends to support these children by providing regular sport, nutrition and social groups that help to improve their quality of life as well as their physical and mental wellbeing. Four main interventions have been developed with the children in mind and form the basis of this project. These are:

  • The organisation of football sessions held two times a week;
  • The provision of free healthy, nutritious meals at the Fairplay Café;
  • Weekly sessions aimed at improving the emotional intelligence of the children;
  • For children aged 13 and above, youth groups teaching life skills held twice a week.

Thanks to kind donations and the hard work of our fundraisers, we’re funding the nutrition aspect of this project. The plan is that free meals will be provided to the children at the Fairplay Café after the twice-weekly football sessions. Since the café specialises in vegetarian, healthy food, it guarantees a much higher standard of nutrition for the children who have poor diets.

For us, nutritional support is an extremely important aspect of the program. Not only is nutrition an important determiner for physical health and growth, but it also has a huge impact on mental health outcomes. Without adequate and healthy food provisions, children may experience stunted growth, difficulties in learning, behavioural problems and emotional issues such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder¹.

Before the start of the program, Fairplay gave the children taking part a series of tests to measure them against five key performance indicators or KPIs. These KPIs are body mass index (BMI), adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), learned optimism (LO), growth mindset, and risk of depression. The results of the tests have been used as a baseline to identify how the children are suffering and what can be done about it. They also offer the possibility to determine the overall success of the project, as the children will be tested again both mid-way and at the end of the programme.

We hope to see improvement in these KPIs over the period. The collected data will show whether the work we have done in collaboration with our partner has been beneficial to the children and has increased their quality of life.

A brief outline of the baseline results for the 100 children is given below. You can click through the link on each of the KPIs to find a description of them and why they are important. Be sure to keep up-to-date with our blog to see how the project is going and if there’s been improvements in these KPIs midway and after the programme has ended.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

The baseline results show a large degree of malnourishment among the children and indicate the need for nutritional assistance in the group. The average BMI of the 100 children is 18.4, classified in the underweight category. Furthermore, 52 percent of the male children, and 59 percent of the female children are considered underweight. The most underweight group is 7 to 12 year olds, with the average BMI generally increasing with age.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

ACEs is a tool used to measure the level of childhood trauma an individual has experienced. According to the baseline results, the children supported by this project are highly at-risk. Only 12 of the 100 children said they had not experienced any of the types of childhood trauma listed in the test, while 37 percent had encountered four or more. The most common types of trauma experienced are emotional abuse (59 percent), parental separation/death (52 percent) and physical abuse (42 percent).

Learned Optimism (LO)

LO measures the degree to which people are pessimistic or optimistic about their experiences and what impact this has on them long-term. When this was tested in Payatas, the results showed that, on average, the children are very pessimistic. Around 70 percent of them scored within the ‘very pessimistic’ category and a further 13 percent were rated ‘moderately pessimistic’. Only three percent of the children were deemed to be optimistic. The test also showed that around half of the children reported low self-esteem.

It is worth noting that LO test is relatively complex and therefore, when it was used it Payatas, it was only given to children aged 13 and above (40 out of 100).

Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that basic qualities, such as intelligence, creativity and talent, can develop over time through hard work, dedication and training. It is an extremely valuable mindset for a child to have. On the opposite end of the scale is a fixed mindset. This is the belief that these basic qualities are essentially predetermined, fixed traits and cannot be improved much, if at all.

Fairplay tested whether the children in Payatas have mainly growth or fixed mindsets, finding the results to be overwhelmingly positive compared to the other KPIs.  Overall, 68 percent of the children have a predominately growth mindset, with this being strong in 13 percent. Less than a third of the children have a fixed mindset and none of them strong fixed mindset.

Risk of Depression

Fairplay used the  Center for Epidemiologic Studies – Depression Child (CES-DC) test to measure the likelihood of depression among the children. This involved asking them 20 questions about what they had felt or experienced in the last seven days. The results of the test are alarming as they show that the large majority of the children are at risk of depression. Almost a half of the group (45 percent) scored 25 or above, categorised as being severely depressed, and 41 percent scored between 16 and 24, categorised as moderately depressed. There were no significant difference in results between males and females or between children of different ages. All groups seem to experience similar risks of depression.

In Summary

Overall, the baseline results show that the children supported by our project in Payatas are incredibly at-risk. Not only do they have smaller BMIs than others their age, but they are also suffering mentally due to childhood trauma, risks of depression and low self-esteem and optimism. We hope that through our partnership with Fairplay we will be able to help and assist the children in these and other aspects of their lives. We will keep you up-to-date with our progress here on our blog. Until then!

Sources

  1. Fairplay For All Foundation (2018) Helping 100 Children At-Risk: How Much does Regular Sport, Nutrition, and Social Groups Improve the Well-being of Children in Payatas? Unpublished.
  2. How Poor Nutrition Affects Child Development, Livestrong.com.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): What are they and why are they important?

For children living in poverty, their risk of experiencing trauma in their childhood is much greater than other children. They may be born into families that are dysfunctional, neglectful or abusive or alternatively face dangers on the streets. When we seek to measure Adverse Childhood Experiences, we can use them to understand how a child has suffered from trauma and what we can do about it.

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)?

ACEs are a tool used to indicate the level of childhood trauma an individual has experienced. They are measured by asking respondents ten questions which each relate to a particular category of childhood trauma, such as abuse, neglect and household dysfunction. Each answer confirming the occurrence of a type of trauma is added up to give a score out of ten. As a person’s ACE score increases, they become more and more at-risk.

Why are they important?

It is important to look at the degree to which the children have experienced trauma in their childhood to understand the resulting negative impact on their mental and physical health. Research has found that those with an ACE score of four or more have a two to four times greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions, and an attempted suicide rate 12 times higher than individuals experiencing no childhood trauma. For those with ACE score of 6 or above, the attempted suicide rate increases to 46 times higher, and their life expectancy is reduced by up to 20 years.

How do they affect our work?

Our programme partner Fairplay is using risk of depression as a key indicator to measure progress of the work we’re co-funding. If you would like to find out more about our partnership project ‘Helping 100 Children At-Risk in Payatas, The Philippines’, please check out our work. As we continue to work with children living in poverty across the world, we hope to support those who have experienced trauma and create environments where these dangers are eliminated.

Sources:

  1. Fairplay For All Foundation (2018) Helping 100 Children At-Risk: How Much does Regular Sport, Nutrition, and Social Groups Improve the Well-being of Children in Payatas? Unpublished.
  2. TEDMED: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime. Sep 2014.

 

Body Mass Index (BMI): What is it and why is it important?

Nutrition is a major problem for children living in poverty. Many do not have enough food and resort to eating whatever is available. For instance, scavenging for food from trash is commonplace. As a result, a healthy diet is a reality only for a lucky few. Therefore, it is necessary to measure the BMI of children living in poverty, so that any problems can be recognised and used to identify the best way to help them.

What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?

BMI is an indicator used to measure the ratio between someone’s weight and height and can be used to determine whether a person is a healthy weight, overweight or underweight. Unlike in adults, the healthy amount of body fat for a child changes with age and varies according to their gender. As a result, BMI measurements in children are always interpreted in relation to their age and gender.

Why is it important?

Since BMI gives an indication as to whether a child has healthy amount of body fat for their age and gender, it can be used to identify who is vulnerable to future health risks. Children who have too much or too little body fat for their age or gender are incredibly at-risk. They are likely to be stunted in both physical and mental development and can lose up to ten years on their life expectancy.

How does it affect our work?

Our programme partner Fairplay is using body mass index as a key indicator to measure progress of the work we’re co-funding. If you would like to find out more about our partnership project ‘Helping 100 Children At-Risk in Payatas, The Philippines’, please check out our work. We hope that through our work in Payatas and beyond we will be able to improve the BMI of children living in poverty across the world, so that they stay within the range that is ‘normal’ for their age and are not exposed to future physical and mental health risks.

Sources:

  1. Fairplay For All Foundation (2018) Helping 100 Children At-Risk: How Much does Regular Sport, Nutrition, and Social Groups Improve the Well-being of Children in Payatas? Unpublished.
  2. NHS UK: What is the body mass index (BMI)? Jul 2016.

Growth Mindset: What is it and why is it important?

A person’s mindset has a huge influence on the way they go about their daily life and their likelihood of success. For children living in poverty, a positive mindset can be an extremely important factor in helping them overcome the challenges they face. By understanding the two main mindsets an individual can have – a growth and a fixed mindset – we can use these to support vulnerable children and equip them better for their future.

What is Growth Mindset?

It is thought that there are two main types of mindset which people can have.

  • A fixed mindset – the belief that basic qualities, such as intelligence, creativity and talent, are essentially predetermined and fixed traits, meaning they cannot be improved much, if at all.
  • A growth mindset – the belief that these basic qualities can continue to develop over time through hard work, dedication, specific training and other improvements.

Whether an individual has a mainly fixed or growth mindset can be tested by giving them various statements, and asking them the extent to which they agree or disagree. These results are then coded and added up to produce a score out of 60.

Why is it important?

A growth mindset is an extremely valuable skill for children to have, as it can give them the motivation to work hard and dedication to improve their mental and physical abilities. An improvement in the growth mindset of the children could therefore result in extremely positive outcomes in their emotional, physical, financial and academic lives.

How does it affect our work?

Our programme partner Fairplay is using growth mindset as a key indicator to measure progress of the work we’re co-funding. If you would like to find out more about our partnership project ‘Helping 100 Children At-Risk in Payatas, The Philippines’, please check out our work. As we continue to support children living in poverty across the world, we hope that we can encourage positive thinking and growth mindsets which set these children up for future success.

Sources:

  1. Fairplay For All Foundation (2018) Helping 100 Children At-Risk: How Much does Regular Sport, Nutrition, and Social Groups Improve the Well-being of Children in Payatas? Unpublished.
  2. The Guardian: Research every teacher should know: growth mindset. Jan 2018

 

Risk of Depression: What is it and why is it important?

Children living in poverty are exposed to challenging situations including violence, illness and death, which others their age have not yet experienced. This can have a huge impact on their mental health, especially on their likelihood of developing disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar. By looking at the risk of depression in children, we can identify how they are suffering and use targeted interventions to help improve their mental health.

What is risk of depression?

Depression is a disorder that severely impacts the daily lives of individuals. Although it is considered a mental disorder, it also has a huge effect on someone’s physical health and social interactions. Some of the most common symptoms include being unable to experience pleasure, episodes of irritability, anxiety and fear. Changes in appetite, body weight and sleep patterns can occur also. The causes of depression are complex, ranging from genetics to chemical imbalances, medical problems, culture and stress from ongoing, recent or past events.

One way to measure the risk of depression in children is using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies – Depression Child (CES-DC) test. This involves asking children 20 questions about what they have felt or experienced in the last seven days. These answers are scored on a scale of zero to three and then added up to produce a total score. Overall, a higher total test score indicates a greater risk of depression for a child.

How does it affect our work?

Our programme partner Fairplay is using risk of depression as a key indicator to measure progress of the work we’re co-funding. If you would like to find out more about our partnership project ‘Helping 100 Children At-Risk in Payatas, The Philippines’, please check out our work. Depression is a very life-limiting condition for children to experience at a young age. We hope that, by giving positive opportunities to children living in poverty across the world, we can improve life for those who are most at-risk.

Sources:

  1. Fairplay For All Foundation (2018) Helping 100 Children At-Risk: How Much does Regular Sport, Nutrition, and Social Groups Improve the Well-being of Children in Payatas? Unpublished.
  2. Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale

Learned Optimism (LO): What is it and why is it important?

The challenges children living in poverty face in their everyday lives can have a huge impact on the way they think about their experiences. Having encountered difficult situations at a young age, they are more likely think pessimistically and have a low self-esteem. We can use Learned Optimism to measure this and, consequently, decide on ways to help overcome these problems.

What is Learned Optimism (LO)?

LO measures the degree to which people are pessimistic or optimistic about their experiences and what impact this has on them long-term. It is typically tested by presenting people with a series of scenarios and asking them to choose the option they are most likely to think. This test is relatively complex and is therefore often only suitable for older children and adults, such as those aged 13 and above.

Why it is important?

LO can be used to predict a child’s motivation, level of self-esteem and willingness to use their abilities in good or bad situations. This has a huge impact on their likelihood of under- or over-performing, as those with an optimistic view on situations often do better than expected and those with a pessimistic view do worse. Pessimism can also have a severe effect of a person’s mental health, especially on their tendency to experience depression.

How does it affect our work?

Our programme partner Fairplay is using learned optimism as a key indicator to measure progress of the work we’re co-funding. If you would like to find out more about our partnership project ‘Helping 100 Children At-Risk in Payatas, The Philippines’, please check out our work. We hope that, through interventions that help children to think positively and build their self-esteem, we can continue to improve the quality of lives of those living in poverty across the world.

Sources:

Fairplay For All Foundation (2018) Helping 100 Children At-Risk: How Much does Regular Sport, Nutrition, and Social Groups Improve the Well-being of Children in Payatas? Unpublished.