Background: In an effort to foster citizenship security in Belize City, the Metamorphosis Programme began in 2012 as a series of Youth Peace Summits funded by UNICEF and evolved into a multi-dimensional pilot intervention that addresses the human development needs of adolescent males and their families. It was piloted with children identified by schools and partner agencies as those most at-risk of dropping out of school or engaging in anti-social behaviour due to their high exposure to violence. The programme will complete its third cohort with 36 students at the end of 2018.
Objectives: The programme is being implemented as qualitative research, using small samples of high risk adolescent boys from gang territories. Its obejctives are as follows:
- To foster resiliency in children and adolescents by promoting protective factors to reduce risk in their daily lives
- To provide adults with regular parenting sessions to train them to become more effective parents
- To build capacity in school personnel to reinforce protective factors of beneficiarie
Resilience encompasses the manner in which an individual is able to cope or return to a state of normalcy after an adverse event or exposure to trauma and is a skill of particular necessity in a country that consistently ranks highly on the annual murder rate per-capita list.
The Team: The Metamorphosis Program is being executed primarily by a team of professionals referred to as the RESTORE Belize Trauma Team and a number of key stakeholders including a number of government and non-governmental organizations, schools and community organizations.
Activities: The Metamorphosis Programme provides in-depth and sustained interventions with its target group at all levels of the ecological framework. As such, activities include a range of individual, home-based, school-based & community-based services including individual counselling, social work support for families, regular home visits, remedial academic classes, mentorship, meeting with schools, extracurricular activities, retreats, and linking families with social services. Upon graduation, some students are recommended to RESTORE Belize’s I AM BELIZE Scholarship programme which in turn has its own range of wrap-around services.
Literacy Initiatives: The reading levels of students in the programme were assessed using the A-Z assessment of fluency and comprehension in March 2018. Majority of the students were below reading level, so RESTORE Belize invested in after school literacy classes with the students for three months. In the post-assessment, most of the students had improved by two grade levels with reading levels of only three children remaining unchanged. The classes have since become a staple in the programme.
Parenting: The focus on parenting sessions has increased as well with more frequent sessions and an expansion of the trainings to also include parents from the I AM BELIZE Scholarship programme. Sessions incorporate role playing and group discussions to cover topics such as discipline, anger, and preparing for summer break.
Documentation: In 2014 the programme was evaluated and best practices, lessons learned, and recommendations were recorded in an evaluation report. Building upon this, a series of Round Table Discussions were held in late 2017 with policy makers and technical officers from government and non-governmental organizations and the education sector.
The aim was to share lessons learnt through the programme with duty bearers working in child protection services in Belize to contribute to the national discussion on the prevention of violence that affects children and youth.
Drawing on lessons learnt and the proceedings from the Round Table Discussions, RESTORE Belize commissioned the systematization of a framework and model so that the programme can be replicated and scaled.