The outcomes of an independent evaluation of the activities provided by the IMOVE Foundation suggest that mindfulness and movement sessions yield significant benefits in terms of enhanced concentration, improved attitudes towards others, decreased violence among children as well as improved physical wellbeing and better classroom environments.
Evaluation for MOVE4Syrians project
– 88% of the children said the English lessons improved their performance in school and allowed them to have better school results.
– 76% of the children became better listeners and 88% of the children said when they are upset, they cooled down quicker.
– 95% of the children said their relationship with their family members and friends have improved.
– 60% of the children said the Yoga classes had a positive effect on their behavior in school.
– 85% of the children said they got more confidence in themselves.
– 89% of the children said they are happier because of the project.
IMOVE Foundation has launched MOVE4Syrians project in collaboration with two other organizations, Dar el Amal and Solidarity in Sabra and Chatila in February 2015. In Dar el Amal, 65 children participate in 4 classes. Nikita spends two full mornings weekly in this center. In addition to the Yoga and English classes she does all days of the week one quarter of an hour for all the children of mindfulness training. In Solidarity, 70 children attended the program in 4 classes with Nikita during three full mornings. In addition, she does mindfulness training for all the children once a week. 85% of the children who joined the classes of MOVE4Syrians are Syrian and 9 % Palestinians refugees, and 6% are marginalized Lebanese children. After a period of six months an evaluation was conducted at the end of July. It consisted of an evaluation with three different groups of stakeholders – the animators, the parents and the children themselves. This allowed us to understand the point of view of each of these groups regarding the effect the project had on the behavior, overall attitude and demeanor of the children who joined the project. In addition, interviews with the directors of both centers were carried out. Both directors spoke very highly of the program and think it covers a need for this category of marginalized children. They hope that this program will continue. The directors noticed that the children liked Nikita and her methods of teaching them. They thought this was due to the fact that Nikita herself likes children. They also felt she easily established good relations with them and the staff of both the centers. Overall, they felt children got to be calmer and came to the centers with more enthusiasm.
The directors think this program stands out from other programs because it has two components – learning and physical activities. Parents expressed to the directors their happiness because of the educational benefits their children receive. The children’s English language skills has improved, and helped them perform their lessons in school. One of the directors said she was amazed by the way the children spoke English in a junior class who did not yet attend school yet as they are only six years of age. This is the main reason why parents were eager to have their children come to the center regularly. Both directors felt the quarter of an hour of mindfulness training first thing in the morning made a difference difference in the behavior of the children, getting them calmer and more cooperative in dealing with others all say long.
FIRST GROUP. Six employees who worked directly with the children were interviewed (two social workers, two animators, one teacher and one teacher assistant). They all attended Yoga sessions. Two of them attended all the sessions, one attended ten sessions, one five sessions and two said they attended many sessions but do not recall how many. All of them agreed that the project is an excellent one and has affected the personality of the children and their school performance. Teaching English was of great value. It attracted the children to come to the center and do other activities. It also made the parents feel their children are doing something to improve their future. It made changes in their behavior; they have developed relations with their relatives and friends. The children have become calmer, less violent and are able to concentrate more on whatever they are doing. Children are also friendlier, listen better and accept other people opinions more often. The interviewees all found that children who attended the Yoga classes got to behave and solve their problems differently from those who did not attend Yoga classes. Regarding the difficulties they faced at the beginning of the project, all of them except one said that the children’s concentration was a big problem at the onset, which was overcome due to the sessions. Regarding the exercises of Yoga, half of the workers found that the children had difficulties at the beginning doing the TREE exercise; the other half said the respiration exercise. As for the easiest component of the program, they said the relaxing atmosphere, and dealing with Nikita. When asked about suggestions for the future of the program, two suggested giving the chance to more children to attend this program and increase the weekly hours. One suggested having smaller groups. One suggested increase the variety of exercises and one found the program is perfect and nothing needs to be changed. All of them liked this new approach for dealing with children and felt the program is exiting. The employees found they benefited by getting to breathe better themselves. When asked if they would like to become Yoga trainers both of the interviewed animators and one social worker said they would love to. The teacher and one social worker would not like to become Yoga trainers while the teacher assistant did not answer the question. All of the staff members said the program allowed both boys and girls to join activities together.
SECOND GROUP. 8 parents were interviewed (7 females and one male). All of them are parents in families that consist of a mother, a father and children living together. All of them are parents of children who both attended the sessions of MOVE4Syrians and have access to school. Regarding jealousy amongst siblings half of them said there is jealousy and thinks this is normal while the other half said they do not notice any jealousy amongst their children. Parents said their relations rank between good and excellent and was not affected by their attendance of MOVE4Syrians program. 30% of the parents said their children have an introvert personality. Half of the parents consider their children happy in life while the other half consider their children act sometimes happy and at other times unhappy.
Regarding their sleeping habits, parents said their children have nightmares irregularly, although half of the children go to sleep directly when they go to bed and the other half takes them sometimes to sleep. All the parents except one said their children keep in touch with their school friends during school vacations through the center. 50% of the parents said when their children play they prefer to do so with their siblings and relatives while the other 50% said their children prefer to play with their friends. When asked if their children have any hobby, all of the parents said that their children like drawing. 30% of the parents said their children fear cats. 65% said their children fear the sound of pistols and 5% fear crowds. Parents were asked to give suggestions for the program: 40% would like to increase the English teaching hours while 50% would like their children to have more hours of reading and writing.
THIRD GROUP. Children at Dar Al Amal and Solidarity (5% of the girls were 6 years old, 80% were between the age of 10 and 13, and 15% had their ages between 13 and 15) were interviewed. When the children were asked if they became more relaxed after attending Yoga lessons, 65% said they got more relaxed, 10% said greatly more relaxed, 10% said they are still the same and 4% did not answer. 88% of the children said the Yoga classes helped them to cool down quicker when upset while 12% said their attitude did not change when upset. 60% of the children said the Yoga classes had a positive effect on their behavior in school and more responsible in solving their school problems. 25% said they are the same, as before attending Yoga classes and 15% did not answer. 88% of the children said the English lessons improved their performance in school and allowed them to have better school results. 6% answered that their school performance was not affected and 5% did not comment. 89% of the children declared Yoga classes made them more energetic, 11% said Yoga did not affect their energy. 95% of the children said their relationship with their family members and friends have improved while the other 5% found their relationship with others is still the same. This is probably due to the fact that 76% of the children have become better listeners and 88% of the children said when they are upset they cooled down quicker. 88% of them said they liked their bodies more and know more about them. All of them said the Yoga classes had a great effect on their health. 90% of the children said the classes helped them have a better posture while 10% said their posture is the same. All the children said they do not have any physical complain especially in relation to backache as 60% of the children said they used to have backache when walking. 85% of the children said they got more confidence in themselves while 12% said the project did not affect their confidence in themselves. 89% of the children said they are happier because of the project altogether while 11% said their mood did not change. 95% said they enjoy having more friends while 5% did not care. In reality 76% got to have more friends while 24% did not. 80% said they are more liked by their friends. The rest of the 20% said attitudes of their friends towards them did not change. 82% of the children finish what they begin while 10% do not always finish what they start and 8% did not answer the question.