Happy and Sad Boxes Evaluation

August 26, 2016

Hedwiga

Today, TFFT alumni, Richard Augustino, shares an update with us about his experience evaluating our Happy and Sad Box project. The Happy and Sad Boxes are an approach established by our Psychosocial and Health Program in schools to offer children the opportunity to communicate and share their rights, and/or a violation of rights, as well as best practices happening at their school.

I am so happy to share with everyone how the Happy and Sad Boxes evaluation exercise went. Being a TFFT scholar and taking part in this exercise gives me a strong desire to talk about this. I always say that whatever TFFT gives me helps me keep growing in every aspect of my life. The opportunities that I come across because of TFFT are of great importance to me. They are very valuable to me.

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I want to talk about the two weeks that we took to do the evaluation. We did a two-day training that helped my colleagues and me develop research skills. We applied these skills and the exercise was successful. This made our work in the field easier. It is a great privilege to be on this team to do an evaluation. During the evaluation, we did Focus Group Discussions with students and the community, and had the students answer questionnaires.

It is great to see TFFT do this evaluation. This helps show me TFFT’s amazing vision for the Happy and Sad Boxes. TFFT makes a remarkable impact in the Tanzanian communities it serves, and no one can ever erase that. Implementing a project and then evaluating it shows community members how serious TFFT is when it comes to providing the best.

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It is so wonderful when someone introduces something and takes an extra step to do an evaluation. I believe that TFFT works for the best and wants to do a lot in the future, which is why it is important to measure the success of any projects. This is one of the best projects that I have ever come across, TFFT is doing a lot to safeguard children’s rights.

I think the TFFT does an amazing job. I know how challenging it is just running a project on children’s rights, and I appreciate the enormous effort put forth by TFFT.  It takes huge effort to organize the programs that TFFT runs.

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I look forward to seeing what comes in the future and hope I’m around long enough to connect with even a small portion of what’s already in place.

Posted in Psychosocial + Health | Comments closed

Part of the Team

August 23, 2016

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Hello again to all of you wonderful TFFT supporters! My name is Caiti, and I have worked with Kaitlin in Chicago for the past year, learning the important role that communications and development plays in The Foundation For Tomorrow’s work. I’m thrilled to announce that I have officially assumed the full-time role of Communications and Development Associate in the Chicago office!!

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It gives me great pleasure to see TFFT’s reach expand every day, both in the U.S. support network and in Tanzanian schools and homes. TFFT’s team strives to carry out its mission daily and works diligently to deliver positive and long lasting impacts on the lives of the scholars. Therefore, it’s no surprise when I see how dedicated every team member is to maintaining this impressive growth and progress.

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Throughout this past year at TFFT, I’ve learned so much and gained responsibilities. From figuring out how to use our database, to writing notes thanking you for your gifts, to posting blogs, helping coordinate events, and everything in between, I have genuinely looked forward to coming to the office each day.

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My job as a full-time team member focuses on communication with our sponsors and donors, the people who keep TFFT’s operations up and running. I look forward to getting to know you all! My focus is to acknowledge the importance of all donations, and to explain exactly where and how each gift is used to improve our scholars’ lives. We want to make sure that our supporters understand how investing in our work helps us to provide orphans and vulnerable children with access to a quality education. In order to show this process in action, we use our blog and social media to share real-time program updates. My role also includes awareness building for TFFT, providing support for campaigns and events, and assisting with internal development.

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I really enjoy the work that I do all day every day, and I love that that’s something I can honestly say! I feel fortunate to be part of such a passionate, full of energy team. In September, I have the privilege of traveling to Tanzania for the first time, where I will finally meet the scholars who drive TFFT’s work! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be present for the Vision Trip and work with our amazing team in TZ.

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This week, I’m excited to work in the Charlotte office with Meghann, Kaitlin, and Ray. We are already starting to prepare for November’s S.O.S. Gala…I can’t wait to come to this year, and I hope to meet many of you there too!

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Working at TFFT has taught me the true importance of what receiving a quality education can bring, and I cannot wait to see the work that we do each day shape the future, one step at a time.

Posted in Introductions | Comments closed

Full Circle Update – PDS Project Evaluation

August 17, 2016

Hilda

It’s been a busy month of August for the Full Circle Program. A lot took place this month…luckily, we managed to accomplish everything planned! The FC Program planned to evaluate the PDS piloting program after a year and a half of implementation. We want to measure the impact of the PDS classes to the piloted schools. We had 10 pilot schools from Meru district, but for this evaluation to be effective, we also needed to compare these 10 schools with some of the control schools so we can correctly understand the evaluation.

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It took a week and some days to develop evaluation tools and methodologies that will be applicable for the whole process. All these were sent to a monitoring and evaluation expert, our former Country Director Ken Oulu who is still involved in this, to review and modify before our final editing. Ken came up with the evaluation framework, which will act as the guide, and we agreed on tools and methodologies. This evaluation was specifically for students, PDS class teachers, head of schools, ward education coordinators and district officials.

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We used questionnaires and focus group discussion for students. The questions asked were the same at both treatment schools and controlled schools. For teachers and district officials, we used key informative interviews. Questions differed for those at the piloting schools and at control schools.

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A group of seven people ready to put their mind and brain for this activity were trained intensively on data collection for two days. It took us five days to collect data from nine schools. Lucky the data collectors were well trained and well prepared for this activity. Teachers and students gave us maximum cooperation in carrying out the evaluations.

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I am here at the office cleaning the data, analyzing the data, entering the collected data into spreadsheets, and writing an overall report which will give us feedback of PDS project implementation. I hope you will all love to hear how this intervention has enabled students to learn effective life skills education. Also this will help us to see the support of TFFT’s Full Circle Program in teaching essential life skills to Tanzanian students.

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Stay tuned for the evaluation results and report!

Posted in Full Circle | Comments closed

Au Revoir!

August 11, 2016

BlogGrace

Wow! I can’t believe summer and my time with The Foundation For Tomorrow is coming to a close! I’ve had an unbelievable time working for TFFT this summer, and I’ve learned so much. Every morning when I came into the office, I was always faced with a new, exciting project to get started on. I enjoyed being able to work with Meghann, Kaitlin, Ray, Caiti, and the members of our Tanzania team via Skype. Everyone was such a pleasure to work with, and I was captivated by how dedicated all of them are to TFFT’s mission. The Core Values Survey all team members completed is a perfect example of this. The questions in the survey dive deep into the fundamental aspects of TFFT’s mission and the morality of TFFT’s team members. We all ranked our top five core values and then explain how those apply to our work with TFFT. Above all, TFFT wants to ensure that all of its team members are devoted to TFFT’s vision in order to function more efficiently as a collective team.

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I have learned many valuable lessons working with TFFT these past two summers. I’ve realized that all individuals are destined for greatness as long as they seek out the opportunities put in front of them. However, once an opportunity has come your way, you must develop a strong work ethic and dedicate yourself to a goal. Seeking help from others and collaboration are also necessary components of achievement because nothing is greater than when strong minds come together. I saw this first hand when preparing for the upcoming Vision Trip. One of my tasks involved using photos from previous trips to create a display for those interested in joining the trip. Despite its simplicity, the project involved several hours in photoshop to make sure each picture looked perfect and told their story. With that said, I couldn’t have completed it without feedback and helpful pointers from our team. This project became a great example of the TFFT’s team commitment; every project is not completed solely by one person, and everyone gives helpful feedback to whoever is in charge of a task.

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My experience with TFFT has also emphasized the importance of education. Education leads an individual to a strong sense of empowerment, and it’s essential to reinforce the value of knowledge. TFFT’s Founder, Meghann Gunderman, always says, “Geography shouldn’t dictate how far an individual goes in their life or the quality of education they should receive.” I saw that through working with the team in Tanzania on a scholar letter campaign. We asked scholars to share some of their goals for the future. Even though they live on a different continent, the scholars have the same aspirations and love for knowledge as students here in the U.S. Broadly, I’ve come to appreciate the invaluable education that I’ve received, and I’ve realized how crucial it is for others to experience the same enrichment. TFFT is a phenomenal organization that reinforces the significance of education, and I’ve never been more proud to be a member of such a fantastic team. I will truly miss this summer’s experience, and I will carry the memories I’ve experienced for a lifetime!

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Posted in Internships | Comments closed

Richard’s Letter to Fellow Scholars

August 4, 2016

caiti

Today, one of our alumni shares with us his advice to the soon-to-be TFFT graduates! Richard Augustino is an exemplary role model, diligent worker, and top-notch student. Richard aspires to go to college in the United States and is currently working towards this goal. As one of TFFT’s first Scholarship Program graduates, Richard has many meaningful and encouraging ideas and words of wisdom. We cannot wait for you to read excerpts from his letter to fellow scholars, because you make TFFT’s work possible. 

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I am writing to you to share some important things, which will make us grow. I would love for us to understand and realize how gifted we are. I would love for you to tap into your full potential and grow to become someone great. As TFFT Scholars, we are gifted in many ways. Everyone has an area in life where he or she performs best. There is that uniqueness in every one of us. There must be something that you contribute to the betterment of this world.

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The uniqueness that is within us is what makes us have a purpose. Each one of us has got a purpose to fulfill in life. Realizing that purpose might be the greatest task for each one of us. To be great is met when you discover your unique purpose. When you realize your mission, the whole world benefits from you. Living with purpose and intention is understanding how important you are.

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Set yourself achievable goals, use all opportunities and resources that you meet. Our world will never decide for us which path to follow when working towards our goals. You will be the one to decide. The steps you take are yours and not someone else’s. We should remember that it is within our power to strive for the happiest life by making the best decisions and carving out an individual path towards a personal goal. This way, if you feel like quitting, you won’t because there is something good that you are after.

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Tap into your potential and the internal compass that guides you toward a particular focus for your life. Do whatever it takes to be on the right track. It requires a lot of sacrifice to be great. Please, let whatever we do be an attempt to enhance our success. Let us completely control our personal evolution and become a leader in every area of our life.

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Respond wisely to whatever opportunities and resources come your way, in order to receive the most benefits from them. We all have a role to play in this world and that will be reached through achieving our dreams, visions, and goals.

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We often say, “I want to be an engineer, a pilot, a doctor!” But do we really work for that? How often do we become too friend centered and get lost? Do we follow our own unique path, or do we listen to our friends and follow their paths? We should understand that even if a friend has the same goal, it does not mean that they will take the same path to get there. Favoring your dreams requires strength. Be honest with yourself. When you plan something, do it. Use your time well.

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Think about your dreams, decide what you want, and get to work now. Believe that achieving them is possible. Create the environment you need and focus on what is important. Free your heart and your mind. Adopt new ways of thinking, feeling, and living, and apply them everyday.

Remember: your mindset can be the cause of what is not working for you. Change your thoughts to change your life. Begin somewhere.

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Thank you for giving Richard and all of our scholars meaning and purpose. You provide our scholars with the opportunity to dream big and to create their own success. Richard’s recent letter is an example of this in action! Read more of Richard’s reflections here.

Posted in Development, TFFT Student Work | Comments closed

The Student Full Potential Workshop

July 28, 2016

Stephen

The Foundation For Tomorrow presented an introductory workshop on “Student Full Potential” recently to our partner schools of Arusha Modern School and Usa River Academy. Teams from Scholarship and Teacher Training worked together to present to over thirty teachers what we hope to offer in training specifically targeted to help students reach their full potential.

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In my introduction of our Student Full Potential Framework, I explained that the chance for a child to grow to their full potential requires effort from many different sources in the school environment. A learner does not have to take the full responsibility of a particular academic outcome; rather, that it depends on many aspects found in the learning environment. I spoke of how important aspects such as professional development, leadership, data management, attendance to psychological strengthening, parental involvement, and classroom techniques can all impact on a child reaching full potential.

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My colleague Pamela introduced school culture and school climate, and a discussion followed on building a positive, healthy, and open learning environment that would fertilize young minds. To establish how well a school climate is supporting learning, and areas that need more improvement, Pamela gave the teachers a school climate survey. This survey looks into various aspects of school life that supports student achievement. This included student/ staff relationships; student/ student relationships; clarity of expectations; fairness of rules; acceptance of diversity; and student engagement. The results of this survey will be presented back to the school after analysis and will act as the basis for further development and school improvement plans.

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Noah and Abishai presented a discussion and workshop on reflective teaching, which reminded teachers of the importance of looking back on what has been done in the classroom, and assessing where things could be improved. This reflection, or monitoring of one’s progress, lessens the chance of a child failing at the end of the year and all of us lamenting the fact that nothing could have been done about it.

During the question and answer question time, teachers asked about how TFFT chooses scholars and what the criteria for selection is. I spoke of the concepts of vulnerability and how a child is considered “most vulnerable” and how complex and subjective that term can be. One of the principals of the school gave us feedback that it is important and useful for her teachers to understand how disadvantaged our scholars have been and that this vulnerability may impact on their student’s current situation. The principal felt that this insight would make them more patient, understanding, and compassionate.

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Another topic was the issue of the use of corporal punishment. One of the teachers asked TFFT’s stance on this controversial subject, and requested some guidance and further information on different modes of discipline. As happens with open discussions on this contentious topic, many people had entrenched views about the efficacy or otherwise of such a disciplinary technique. Staff at TFFT suggested that we present a workshop on this topic in the future and design the workshop in such a way to get everyone’s opinions as well as latest ideas from research.

The workshop served as the foundation on which we will discuss other topical issues related to the Student Full Potential Framework. We thank the schools for the positive feedback they have given on how they feel the Student Full Potential Framework is going to impact practices in the respective schools.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Scholar Interview with Julieth

July 26, 2016

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July has been a whirlwind, but in the best way possible. After finishing RIDETZ, I’ve stayed in Arusha for a few weeks to interview some of the TFFT Scholars in honor of TFFT’s 10th Anniversary. Getting to go to the different schools around Arusha and meeting some of the scholars who I’ve heard about, seen photos of, and communicated with sponsors about for so many years has been really cool. As we go through the interviews, I’m able to learn so much about the scholars, and I’ve been surprised with how open they have been with me. One of my favorite interviews so far was with Julieth Elyiah.

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Julieth Elyiah is 17 years old and is in Form 3 at Star High School. Julieth’s mother had eight children, but two of them have passed away. Julieth shared that her mother was a victim of domestic violence. Before becoming a TFFT Scholar, Julieth attended Nkoarika Government School, where she recalls that there were not enough teachers or supplies. The class was filled with students, but there were not many teachers. Some days she was sent home from school because she could not provide the maize, beans, water, and money that were used as payments to attend school. Her mother was pregnant and had no work, which resulted in trouble finding food. Later her mom found a job selling bananas.

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When she was 8 years old, her mother found out about TFFT from another mother in the village. After interviews and the selection process, Julieth was informed that she would receive a TFFT Scholarship. Julieth says her mother is still suffering, but Julieth is working hard in school to relieve her mother of some of this struggle. Julieth enjoys going home over school breaks and helping her mother around the house.

As a TFFT Scholar, Julieth began attending school at Fikira Kwanza, and then transferred to Usa River Academy. She excelled at Usa River Academy, and her grades were high enough that she was sent to Star High School, one of the top secondary schools in Tanzania. Julieth is now thriving at Star High. Her favorite subjects are Commerce and Book Keeping. She dreams of becoming an accountant and working in a bank. When I asked Julieth who her inspiration is, she responded without hesitation saying that it is her mother. Julieth loves her family and works incredibly hard to improve her mother’s situation for the future. At TFFT, Stephen guides Julieth. She feels comfortable talking with Stephen and asking him for advice.

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Julieth loves her life as a TFFT Scholar. When I asked her what she likes most about being a TFFT Scholar, she thought for a moment and said she loves that TFFT is supporting and comforting. She also loves the other TFFT Scholars and she likes helping them when they need help. She mentioned many times that she loves TFFT, she loves her sponsor, Bobby Samuelson, and she loves TFFT supporters.

Julieth is an incredibly bright, sensitive, and kind young girl, and I loved the opportunity I had to talk with her. She is so thankful for the chance to receive a quality education, and she is truly making the most of this opportunity. I know that with her motivation and her intelligence, Julieth will go far, and I am very excited to see where the future takes one of Tanzania’s brightest stars!

Posted in Tanzania, TFFT Student Work | Comments closed

Trip to Pangani

July 14, 2016

Noah

This June, as part of RIDETZ, several of our scholars had the opportunity to travel to Pangani, a beach town on Tanzania’s beautiful coast. The trip to Pangani was such an unforgettable experience for everyone involved. For many of the scholars, it was the first time they had ever seen the ocean.

We started our journey to Pangani late in the morning one day before the riders arrived at this end destination. It took us 11 hours to reach Pangani. Though we arrived late in the evening, everyone was happy with the journey and finally we arrived safely. We had time to stop at a handful of small shops along the road, eat lunch together as a family, and enjoy the landscape along the way. We stayed near the beach, which was amazing for our scholars to see.

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While waiting for the riders, we conducted a workshop for our scholars on life skills, including sessions on time management and goal setting.

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The riders, scholars, and TFFT team had a great time meeting each other and having fun together on the beach. When the riders arrived at Pangani, they ran straight into the ocean. The scholars and the team were there, waiting to congratulate on completing RIDETZ 2016! It was wonderful to observe the interactions between our scholars and the riders. Some people splashed around in the water and others sat down on the shoreline engaged in a conversation.

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It was lovely to see the scholars, the team, board members, our founder, Meghann, and our supporters in one place, all sharing a unique experience together. We celebrated the achievement and their impact in securing quality education for the most vulnerable children in our country, Tanzania.

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Although brief, meeting the riders was an awesome moment in our scholars’ lives. Everyone enjoyed witnessing the riders’ success as they finished their challenging 400 mile ride from Arusha to Tanga. The riders, an important part of our TFFT Family, share a passion and strong belief in our work that keeps us focused and moving forward. We are grateful for these individuals who support us in many ways in order to bring the changes that we want in securing quality education in Tanzania.

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Posted in Events, RIDETZ, Tanzania | Comments closed

First Family Cell Meeting at Usa River Academy

July 12, 2016

CORRECT Abishai

TFFT introduced Family Cells with the intention of helping our Scholars to build psychological wellbeing, social life, and academic performance. The Family Cells help the scholars get to know each other better, as they spend more time together.

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During our first meeting, we went through the following:

  1. The meaning of the family
  2. Roles of the family head
  3. Roles of the family members
  4. The importance of establishing these families of TFFT Scholars

The students were very happy to be introduced to this new system of families in schools. They said these Family Cells will help them to become friends with one another and they will be helping each other whenever they are having some problems.

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We also shared with them that it is important to have leaders within the Family Cells, and these leaders will be responsible when the family head is not around.

During the meeting, we agreed that the Family Cell should be a happy place where all the family members need to feel comfortable and enjoy themselves. In order to create a peaceful and happy environment in the family, we have to establish the rules which are fair to every member, and all Family Cell meetings must include fun activities in addition to discussions.

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As the Family Cell Head, I am preparing lots of games and sports which will be useful activities during the next family cell meeting. What I have noticed is that the students have lots of knowledge and skills, so Family Cell meetings will provide a great time for us all to share our skills and experiences to equip one another. Also, Family Cell meetings will offer a time to help any younger or less strong students. The students have shown appreciation of having Family Cells as an important resource.

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Posted in Psychosocial + Health, Scholarship Program | Comments closed

Building a Child’s Psychological Well-Being in our Daily Interactions

June 28, 2016

Pamela

Basic acceptance and unconditional support of a person is essential to healthy development. Carl Rogers proposed this about 60 years ago, and many of us of the Humanistic persuasion still believe it to be true. How can we put this into practice to help our scholars to be the best possible people that they can be? How can we build the psychological well being of a child so that they can thrive in a school environment? These are two very important questions that those of us in TFFT who are entrusted with scholar’s overall welfare, must take into account with all our interactions.

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Psychological needs for all of us can be drilled down to the following: feeling safe, feeling that you belong, having a sense that you have control over your life, and feeling that you are competent and are able to achieve things. When these basic needs are fulfilled, students are more likely to become engaged and committed to their work at school. They are more likely to act in accordance with school rules, develop better social skills and emotional intelligence, contribute to the school environment, have better motivation, less alienation, and increase their school performance. What an amazing list of wonderful things we would all want for our children! Is psychological wellbeing the key to all those things? Social scientists tell us from their research, so it is important for us to discuss further these four basic psychological needs and incorporate them in our own work, and into our curriculum development for our partner schools.

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Armed with this knowledge, there are some simple things that we can encourage when we interact with our scholars.

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To make children feel safe, we must allow them the space to be themselves, and to be accepted no matter what. A child needs to know they can make mistakes, and practice different responses without being harshly judged. This does not mean there are no boundaries or discipline, but that they can expand in safety without being overly cautious.

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To help them feel that they belong, young people need to feel they are accepted, know who they are, feel that they are valued and respected and part of a group. When one feels connected to others, and feel a part of a community, one is protected from many of life’s harsh experiences. This can be especially true in African societies. Some of our scholars may not know their family members, or they may be estranged from their family’s communities. As TFFT we need to encourage family interaction, and encourage pride of culture and traditions. We should know a child’s background, encourage friendships, and help connect children with their guardians. If a child is discriminated against or bullied or alienated, we need to appreciate how this can negatively impact a child’s psychological well being, and intercede promptly. Our scholars are vulnerable to being left out, or left behind. We need to make sure they are connected.

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To encourage our scholars to raise their confidence and self-efficacy, we all need to praise good work, encourage sustained effort, and talk about peer role models who have achieved their goals. In our interaction with scholars, we need to verbally reward achievements, and even encourage scholars to visualize a successful future. Children are more likely to put in more effort if they see that they can do things successfully. As concerned adults we can seek out what a child can do well, and encourage them to do better, harder, and expand their horizons.

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Our last basic psychological need is to feel that you have autonomy and control over one’s life. For a young person in school, this means being self-motivated, having self-direction, taking responsibility for your actions, and having a say over your choices. When a child has autonomy, they are more likely to stay with an activity, improve their problem solving ability, have greater creative ideas and better conceptual understanding. Ways we can support a child to have autonomy is give them choices in things that effect them, encourage children to experiment, creatively think and challenge themselves. Feedback that is non-judgmental and specific information about how to improve would also be helpful. As children grow older, they need to be encouraged to think for themselves, voice their opinions, and be independent.

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Through Family Cells, TFFT staff has greater opportunity to make a difference to a child’s psychological strength. This can profoundly impact a child’s life outcomes for the better. Those of us with Teacher Training responsibilities need to encourage teachers to protect and build a child’s psychological well being in the classroom, and outside the classroom. With these efforts our scholars can live richer and happier lives.

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Posted in Advocacy, Psychosocial + Health | Comments closed
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