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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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!
- 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.
- How Poor Nutrition Affects Child Development, Livestrong.com.