Bev Brand, Education Lead, gives an update on the progress of the First 1000 Days program since it began in September of 2017.
Thirty new families were welcomed into the First 1000 Days Program (Mil Jou) starting last September. Families in the Sylvain, Haiti, area were invited to participate and 30 families responded and were enrolled. Group A, birth to one-year-old children and their moms, come each day for prayer and a nutritious meal and attend class on Monday afternoons.
Group B and C, ages one and two, come each day for lunch and Thursday afternoons for class. These classes are designed to train families in helping their children develop and grow in healthy and productive ways. Moms are taught about nutrition, health issues, and how to do games and activities with their children that will promote healthy brain development.
Scientific evidence suggests if the brain does not receive the appropriate stimulation during this critical window from birth to age three, it is very difficult for the brain to rewire itself at a later time. With this data in mind, the time during each class is devoted to doing developmental activities with the moms and children. What may look like normal play and social interaction to us is something quite new for the moms in Haiti.
Activities like Buzzy Bee, Footy Fun, and Upsy Daisy have brought lots of smiles and giggles, but serve as a critical developmental tool to help these children learn and grow. Classes also include Bible lessons and spiritual development. Currently, moms are going through stories in the Old Testament and are being challenged in how to apply these truths in their daily lives. Active learning through hands-on activities and reinforcement is a key to “making the Bible come alive”. In addition, all of the children in the program receive regular health check-ups from a Haitian healthcare worker, who monitors their progress.
While the moms attend class, the children have the opportunity to go to the Early Learning Center, housed at the Yellow Iron School of Light, a short distance away. The children are split into groups, where program helpers direct them in developmental activities and play. The rooms are equipped with bouncers, balls, mats, tents, and tunnels to crawl in, and a variety of age-appropriate materials and toys. The older children also have time to play on the adjacent playground. These children are gaining experiences most children in Haiti never dream of, thanks to your sponsorship through the Love in Action Program.