This month has seen some fantastic progress at Fairplay. Everyone in the team has put in tremendous effort throughout the Quarter, and the fruits are showing.
In the last highlights, we talked about NIVEA and the Australian Embassy’s support helping us improve our facilities and safe spaces as well as our organisational capacity. Here we can show more about what that means.
Our researchers have conducted some tests with the students to get a baseline we can compare with. This means we can go beyond checking their academic levels and understand some of the deeper and long-term factors in learning and health outcomes. This includes their emotional intelligence, grit, growth mindset, and self-esteem, as research shows each of these have a major factor in their long-term development in and out of the classroom. Every year we will now be able to share the progress of the students and how they are growing as people.
One of the early results is the progress of our students academically over the last 3 months. The Functional Literacy Test is the exam taken in the Alternative Learning System and is part of the requirements for the High School diploma. In Quarter 2 the students took the Functional Literacy Test to gauge their level and are placed in Basic Literacy, Lower Elementary, Higher Elementary, or High School levels. Now in Quarter 3, the students have taken the test again and comparing the two results we find a 15% increase in their scores. This improvement can be roughly compared to about one grade in public school. In other words, in 3 months our students have caught up a full school year on average.
In other news at the school, we have a Water tank courtesy of the Studer Trust, which means when the water cuts out we have reserves to use. The Balde family are also now sleeping at the school as security guards. You may remember Myra from a previous Faces of Payatas feature about why poor families have so many kids. In the past, some of the children had to sleep on the streets because there wasn’t enough room in their small home for them all to stay. She and her children are able to sleep at the school and act as security guards in the evening. A real win-win.
Childhood Trauma: Adverse Childhood Experiences
A big part of the previous months has been the start of a study into the childhood trauma of those in our care. Existing research has shown the severe physical and mental health affects of different types of childhood trauma. Dr. Nadine Burke has a great TED talk about that here as a good introduction to the topic. In short, those who have experienced a certain amount of childhood trauma end up living 20 years less. It was a huge finding and becomes perhaps the biggest single factor for physical and mental health.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences survey (ACEs) is a simple list of ten questions asking about different types of childhood trauma. These range from emotional, physical, sexual, and neglectful abuse towards a child. The consequences of these abuses had very strong physical and mental health outcomes. Children who scored four or more of the ten types of trauma lives 20 years shorter lives than those who had none. As the infographic shows below, diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancers were far more likely because of childhood trauma. These ACEs predicted strong health outcomes.
So with this understanding, we translated the survey about childhood trauma and, with our teachers and social worker, our researchers asked our full-time students about those. The results are below, comparing the usual rates of scores in Felitti’s original study in the USA, UP Manila’s study in Quezon City, and ours in Payatas.
For us the data was both shocking and unsurprising. While just over 1 in 20 of the majority middle class respondents in the original US study reported 4 or more ACEs, and almost 1 in 10 did in Quezon City (one city of Metro Manila), of our students 8 in 10 of our students are at risk. If 4 or more types of childhood trauma predict a 20 year gap in life expectancy, then we have to ask how much worse is it for those who score 6 or 8 or even higher? In a rather simple way, this shows the toxic and structural problems of a community in the slums. This isn’t a short-term problem… real community development is a long-term change.
There is hope, however. Knowing the information, and knowing the cause, we can prevent further childhood trauma and properly identify and support those who have experienced a high level of childhood trauma. In the original survey, for example, one obese woman said she overate in order to be overlooked. As a child she had been raped, and by eating so unhealthily she hoped to not gain attention and avoid that happening again. This is truly heartbreaking and shows that people’s behaviour, sometimes self-destructive behaviour, actually has a rational reason behind it.
It also shows that teaching people about healthy and unhealthy foods, as well as providing more access, isn’t the whole story. Seminars won’t solve this because the problem isn’t information. It’s emotion. In a very reasonable way, those suffering trauma will always need a coping mechanism, and if a healthy, supportive outlet isn’t available, another outlet will be found. Because some sort of outlet is needed.
This is also why it’s so important for us to track the emotional intelligence, self-esteem, growth mindset, and grit of our students. These tools are what will enable and empower our students to deal with their pasts and move forward constructively. To create their own positive outlets. this is the difference between post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic growth.
Team Philippines at the Street Child World Cup
Also, in September the Team Philippines: SCWC Conference was successfully held at the British School of Manila.
With some fantastic speakers from the academe and 2014 Team Philippines alumni it was an emotional, inspiring, and informative day. The videos of the speakers will be online and our next update will feature these for you to watch and be inspired.
Scouting in the provinces has already been achieved, with the help of Michael Kevin Goco, of Gawad Kalinga and Wipcaps, a scouting trip in Kalibo and Iloilo was arranged before trips to Cebu and Davao. A future update will introduce you to the 12 candidates joining the Training Camp next April ahead of the 2018 Street Child World Cup.