RESTORE Belize ended 2017 on a strong note after successfully completing a series of Round Table Discussions, held in partnership with UNICEF, on lessons learned from the Metamorphosis Programme. 

 

Many children in Belize live in neighborhoods where gang culture is prevalent. Exposure to armed violence affects children’s emotional and psychological wellbeing as well as their academic performance. This is compounded by other risk factors including poverty and trauma. TheMetamorphosisProgramme provides wrap around support services for high-risk male children and adolescents with the aim of building resiliency in the children and their families. Over the course of its five-year multidimensional implementation, the programme has served as a qualitative research with a flexible enough programme design to adapt to new challenges on a case by case basis.

 

The Round Table Discussions were held with CEO’s from key ministries, Technical Professionals in mental health, social work and youth service provision, and Educational Professionals. Each Round Table began with presentations on the guiding frameworks and theories underpinning the Metamorphosis Programme which include Domains of Well-Being, the Ecological Approach, and the Hierarchy of Human Needs. 

Counsellors and social workers presented their case studies which were based on first hand accounts of working with the Metamorphosis children. The Metamorphosis Team was faced with the very real effects of childhood neglect and violence manifested in the children physically, emotionally and academically. Many of the beneficiaries of the programme are discovered to have fundamental needs that are not being met, and while the case studies presented at the Round Table Discussions illustrated this, they also highlighted the hope that is sparked and the progress that is made when children are given the support and the opportunity to just be children.

The team also presented its findings on the roles of Trauma, Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Resilience in the Metamorphosis experience.

Presentations from each of the three Discussions wrapped up with an overview of the challenges and lessons learnt from the programme such as the importance of flexibility in programme design for programmes such as these. An important finding was on the prevalence of trauma, its long term impact on the affected children and its effect on support service providers. Trauma also has implications in children’s educational performance and literacy. Additionally, the gap in mental health services, compared to the high level of need for such services, was highlighted. 

Of note, this study holds serious implications for policy interventions such as the importance of a multidimensional approach, the importance of linkages between interventions and the national response to citizen security, the need for knowledge sharing among programmes like Metamophosis, the need for capacity building in mental health, and the emphasis which should be placed on literacy programmes for high-risk children and their families. 

At the end of the presentations, discussions were held with the duty bearers who gave valuable input which acknowledged the importance of the study and its implications in similar programmes, the need for coordination across services and sectors, the need for greater budget allocation to mental health and social support services, and the importance of capacity building in education and social services to work with children living amidst gang violence. 

The full report can be accessed here.

Anyone who has been to family court can relate to the time, expense, and frustration that accompany long waiting periods in a drawn-out trial. To mitigate these difficulties, court-appointed family mediation has been recognized as a convenient, timely, and amicable alternative that helps to de-clog the system and ensure that resources are allocated prudently. This need is especially pressing outside of the Belize district, in which most services are focused.

  

 To assist in clearing the backlog of cases in family court and extend mediation services across the country, RESTORE Belize, through the Youth Violence Prevention Project, in collaboration with UWI Open Campus, Belize and the Supreme Court of Belize, coordinated and facilitated the training of diverse professionals from all corners of Belize to complete an intensive six-day course on family mediation.  

    

The course utilized techniques such as lectures, group discussions, and role-playing to train participants in mediation skills and build a commitment to ethical conduct, which they were expected to demonstrate. 

    

The 18 participants were sworn in today, and they join the 15 participants who were similarly funded and later sworn-in as family mediators at the start of 2017. The introduction of court-connected mediation into the Family Court promotes a culture of peace and allows for the efficient resolution of family disputes which affect children, adolescents and youth.

RESTORE Belize congratulates the 36 I AM Belize scholarship students honored at last week's 2017 scholarship award ceremony. Donor partners, parents, and staff filled up the Coastal Zone Training Room to recognize the 15 new students and 21 returning students who are fully funded under this programme.


Thanks to funding from our donor partners Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust (BNECT), BEL, BWSL, Atlantic Bank, Atlantic Insurance, and the Development Finance Cooperation, RESTORE Belize’s I AM Belize Scholarship Programme is able to cover the costs of tuition, uniforms, and books up to 4th Form.

What makes this programme unique is its holistic approach in providing additional wrap-around services which include mentorship, need-based tutoring and counseling, internships, and the I AM BELIZE Scholarship Club. The scholarship program was established in October of 2010 as a way to empower people and communities to enable them to become the “conscious architects of their own future,” and as of 2017, 50 students have graduated under the program to become just that.

RESTORE Belize is very proud of our students and would like to once again extend our warmest congratulations.

For more information on how you can contribute to the I AM BELIZE Scholarship Programme, contact us or click here to find out how purchasing one of Dr. Corinth-Morter Lewis’ works can help fund a child’s education.

The Computer Aided Learning Software, or CALS for short, is a tool to complement traditional instruction in literacy and numeracy while attempting to bridge the digital gap for primary school children. Last week we visited one of the 14 CALS sites currently receiving support from RESTORE Belize and were impressed by the fast gains in core reading skills of remedial English speakers.

 

The facilitator told us that getting that far that fast with the students was not easy. It took weeks of training and then months of playing around with the software along with many hours researching useful and engaging complementary activities before she started to see that level of result.

 

Before a teacher becomes a facilitator, he or she must first meet with a literacy expert to re-familiarize him or herself with fundamental English structures and their terminology as a prerequisite for understanding the CALS programme. The teacher then receives training on the software, learning how to set up and maintain the server as well as how to monitor students’ progress and set individual goals for them. This allows him or her to give an individualized experience to the students, reinforcing online lessons with relevant offline activities.

 

The classroom we visited was well decorated with sight words, graphic organizers and information on the writing process along with literary devices. These decorations are changed every month to reflect CALS lessons. When asked how the teacher copes with the added prep time she told us “If you don’t work, it doesn’t work… you just have to push the programme.”

 

And in her class, it has been proven to work with past students showing demonstrable progress over the course of two years. Moving forward, the facilitator has received a donation of books which she will incorporate into the students’ traditional English classes once they have completed the program. Additionally, the school will add 5 more computers which will allow up to 20 students at a time to use the software.

To find out more about the CALS programme read about our Literacy and Numeracy programme here.

 

Spectators came out in droves on September 16th to experience Belize’s steel bands beat out lively renditions of the hits- both old and new. The concert played on well into the night peaking past midnight with Pandemonium. The Pandemonium Steel Band is coordinated and managed through a partnership between RESTORE Belize and NICH with funding from UNICEF as a tool for social outreach to socially vulnerable populations.

These skillful students are taught for free by a masterful musician whose enthusiasm, patience and dedication are evident when he leads. Alex Evans has been their primary instructor since the beginning of the programme and can be seen at the front of the stage directing and performing with his students. Members of the Pandemonium senior band Josh Herrera and Kandice Escalera also teach and help manage the band, and together, these dedicated instructors have helped students hone their abilities and fall in love with the pan.

 

Pan Yaad 2017 truly was an event to remember for musicians and audience members alike. Members of Pandemonium, in particular, will take a break after the past few weeks of intense practice before taking up their sticks again - this time to prepare for a UNICEF event. After that, they have one last concert scheduled for the year; that is their annual Christmas Concert.  

Videos and pictures from Pan Yaad can be accessed on our FaceBook page. To find out more about the steel pan programme, click here.