Cold Weather, Warm Smiles

HAPPY GARDEN

The HAPPY program has been running for over seven years and continues to support early childhood education and development in marginalized communities in and around Beirut and Saida. Now funded by the Beit Jeddi Foundation, we are working with children, teachers and parents across six pre-schools, helping to transform the way young children are taught and supported through their most formative years. This winter, we welcomed over 160 pre-school students and 12 of their teachers to our campus with plenty of room to play and explore. With fun and interactive lessons, the children learnt English and Maths through inquiry and creativity. Our lessons have been combining art, music, drama and games to provide the children with opportunities to learn in a collaborative, creative and inquiry-based way.

Our interventions also involve the teachers, who have been able to observe different teaching styles and take back classroom strategies for student-centered learning. We also organized two parents’ sessions; where parents learn about the science of early childhood development, positive development strategies and how to support children through stress and displacement. The sessions also gave the parents an opportunity to discuss the problems they have at home and share best practices, with our experts and each other. Including the parents and teachers in the program spreads the influence of the program to touch the lives of siblings and classmates outside the HAPPY program. The cumulative effect of these activities ensures that, despite a relatively short intervention, the HAPPY program has a huge impact!

Making Changes

CHANGE

In September, CHANGE welcomed its students to our campus for the last time! This brilliant project was a perfect example of how our work supports the ambitions of young people living in Lebanon.

Since the beginning of 2018, CHANGE has been working with 75 Syrian and Palestinian refugees, from Syria and Lebanon, in Grade 12, to unlock their potential and increase their chances of pursuing higher education. Over the course of two semesters the CHANGE students engaged in intensive English courses and soft skills training. They were also offered college guidance counseling and assistance with their university applications. We are proud of the achievements of the CHANGE students and confident that they will leverage their newly developed skills for their success in the future.
CHANGE is in partnership with The Asfari Foundation.

Student Spotlight: Aya

Student Spotlight Aya

Aya joined the Change program a shy but independent and hard-working individual with the ambition to go to university and become a successful Arabic-English translator. However, with school being over and exams still a few months away, her lack of confidence in English made this dream feel out of reach. The program’s joint focus on English language and Bacc II English preparation re-kindled her determination to chase her dream. Aya took the program as an opportunity to discuss both her academic difficulties and her reservations about her future with Change teachers. She was never afraid to ask teachers for help and to cover specific topics she was struggling with.

So strong was her ambition that she took extra Change sessions and completed over 110 hours of the program, more than any other student. Her confidence grew as did her resolve, and with the support provided by Change, she is once again motivated to pursue her dream of becoming a translator.

“I was studying all the days of the week and always tired, but the days I was going to ULYP I felt comfortable. The program gave me a new energy, and I was benefiting at the same time: studying for the Bacc II and acquiring a new language. All of this really helped me! Change is the best program I have ever seen, it gave me a lot of self-confidence and experiences with new people and new friends.”

Learning Through Code

TLC

“It’s inspiring, motivating, and fun!” One of the girls commented when asked about her experience with TLC, the Together Let’s Code program, in collaboration with TheirWorld’s Code Clubs. Throughout a series of coding sessions, middle-school girls had the chance to become more familiar with computers, including learning all about hardware and software. They were able to write their own programs; coding a piece of art, and even a piece of music! The girls also learned how to integrate the basic concepts of coding into their daily lives, such as how keeping it simple and following exact instructions allows us to organize parts of our lives.

TLC Code Club not only provides computer programming knowledge, but it also inspires the girls, improving their self-confidence, team building and creativity. Expert sessions fortify and strengthen these skills and draw attention to ideas like the celebration of diversity, nourishing and taking care of our bodies, nutrition and mental health. The girls really enjoyed the activities and supported each other throughout.

TLC Code Club is funded by TheirWorld

Volunteer Spotlight – Mira Rahm

Volunteer Spotlight Mira

Mira has been a very active and enthusiastic volunteer with ULYP, dedicating her time to the Together Let’s Code (TLC) program. She has shared with us her experiences as a volunteer, particularly when looking at how online images can affect body image and self-confidence:

“When I first joined the program, I was asking myself about the importance of these sessions in helping young girls entering the digital world. Whether the girls would be interested in discussing “body image” and “self-confidence” at this young age, and how to convince them that being healthy is more important than being perfect.

I AM WORTH IT!

Shortly after starting my first session, I was amazed by all the energy and interaction present in the classroom. We started our activities and discussions with the sole objective of turning the negative thoughts about ourselves into positive ones, turning flaws into unique traits. We concluded that being healthy by exercising and eating well is far more important than being perfect and looking like the girls in the magazines.

GIRL POWER!

The best part was sharing our dreams and respecting those dreams regardless of all the barriers imposed by the society, especially on girls. Girls are here to lift each other and boost their confidence. Sparkling eyes and heart-warming smiles when talking about dreams and giving each other positive comments were my biggest reward!”

Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education

alghurair foundation logo

We are excited to announce that ULYP has recently partnered with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, for a three-year program starting September 1st. This partnership builds on our experience with the CHANGE and BRIDGE programs and makes it possible for ULYP to scale up these programs and reach out to a larger number of beneficiaries. The project has two main components. The first will support Palestinian and Syrian refugee youth with remedial English classes and prepare them for enrolment in Tertiary Education. The students will also engage in soft skills workshops, career counselling and support with applying for university. This component will be implemented in three areas around Lebanon and will build on lessons learned and best practices extracted from ULYP’s CHANGE program and our university preparatory courses.

The second component will provide scholarships and/or co-fund university education for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and certificates in Lebanon and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus for 210 students. The project will also track our students and support them throughout their university studies.

Overall, this project is going to reach over 500 refugee youth in Lebanon and help transform their educational and economic opportunities.

LIFE Returns to ULYP

LIFE Title Pic

ULYP is delighted to announce that the LIFE project is back! LIFE stands for Learn, Inspire, Focus, Engage, and is funded by Taawon/Lebanon. Between September 2018 and June 2019, LIFE will support the learning of 70 children and 35 parents from the Haifa School in Beirut, Lebanon. This program is aimed towards children at risk of dropping out, changing the way they think about education and encouraging them to stay in school. This will be achieved through English language and life skills lessons.

Building on the success of SKILLS FOR LIFE, the original LIFE program recently won the ‘Ockenden International Prize for Refugee Projects’. This award was given as recognition of “innovative work that has promoted self-reliance among refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs)”. It is so exciting to have the opportunity to impact the lives of more children and parents in this way. Taking what we have learnt from previous LIFE programs, and all our other educational experiences, this cycle of LIFE will be the biggest and best yet. The children involved in the program will therefore not only improve their English, but also improve their chances of completing secondary and tertiary education.

Happy Summer

This August, the HAPPY program (Happy Alternative Program for Pre-schoolers and Youth) was in full force, working with 24 children, aged four and five. The program’s learning activities focused on English, maths, art and a lot of outdoor time. The HAPPY program approaches the children as active learners, and engages them in an interactive and immersive learning experience, using stories, songs, art, and activities to support the children’s development.

With all activities taught in English, children developed a good foundation for learning the language in the coming years. It was also an opportunity for the children and teachers to experience a more interactive and hands-on style of learning. The children showed a huge improvement in confidence levels and really enjoyed the variety of activities covered. The wonderful facilities at the campus were perfect for fun in the sun, with lots of time spent in the playground and a final day in a paddling pool! On the last day, the children also received a book bag with paints, paintbrushes, toothpaste and a toothbrush. These gifts are useful for Grade 1 and gave everyone an opportunity to practice the art skills they learnt during the program. They also help ensure that the children are maintaining their oral health; an issue that was also discussed on the ULYP campus.

In addition to all this, ULYP hosted a teacher-training day entitled ‘Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for Early Childhood Development’. Sixteen teachers from HAPPY pre-schools across Lebanon attended and increased their ability to support the mental, physical and cognitive development of the children in their care. This project therefore not only improved the lives of the children attending the class, but also of the countless children that will be under the care of these teachers in the future.

A Fresh Look

ULYP’s campus in Dibbiyeh is brighter and more welcoming thanks to the help of student volunteers from the American Community School Beirut (ACS). As a part of their ‘week-without-walls,’ ACS students and teachers joined the ULYP team and volunteers to undertake a number of campus beautification projects. Campus was buzzing with ACSers painting the walls and stairs of our preschool, designing new posters for the common areas in and around the campus and organizing the stacks of generously donated books we receive each term. The day was a triumphant success, and the results speak for themselves.

Not only is our library now beautifully organized and re-stocked, but the much-needed injection of color into both the preschool and the common areas has brought smiles to every person who comes to ULYP. It just goes to show how much can be achieved when we all get together and work as a team! Thank you, ACS, for all your hard work, and we hope we can count on you again next year!

Our Campus Continues to Grow and Improve

When I step onto the court, I don’t have to think about anything. If I have a problem off the court, I find that after I play, my mind is clearer and I can come up with a better solution. It’s like therapy. It relaxes me and allows me to solve problems.” – Michael Jordan

At ULYP, we are continually improving our campus. Three major refinements were achieved this quarter:

1. Football Field: We have just finished fully upgrading our football field. With the generous support of the United Palestinian Appeal and other donors, we have completely relayed the turf, covered the field for protection during the hot summer months and rainy winter days, re-fenced the perimeter, and installed lighting making it a sought after and exciting prospect for our beneficiaries.

Throughout many of our programs, we weave in sports and interactive learning to aid physical and mental well-being as well as to make the lessons as interactive and engaging as possible. By improving our campus facilities like the football field, we are not only providing an attractive space to host sports programs, but also a space to host interactive lessons and a large number of activities.

 Excited about the new football field, Muhannad Bustani, a 9th grade student in Math4Success, said, “The field is very nice.  I love playing football, it’s one of my best talents. The new field makes the experience on campus even more enjoyable.”

2. Rehabilitating ULYP’s housing: Through a generous grant from the Australian Embassy’s Direct Aid Program, we have been able to upgrade the main house at the ULYP campus, namely the bedrooms, bathrooms, and laundry room. This space is used by ULYP to accommodate the children and youth who live outside the radius of one hour from the campus, which allows ULYP to serve beneficiaries from all over Lebanon who come to campus to spend overnight retreats and participate in programs. This grant enabled ULYP to purchase new bedding, sheets, towels, and pillows for the bedrooms in addition to a new laundry machine, an industrial dryer, and curtains. The main house can now provide an even more comfortable, clean, and hospitable environment for our beneficiaries and guests who rent the villa!

3. Growing our HAPPY program: Given the popularity and success of our HAPPY program, we have decided to build an additional pre-school room to accommodate the growing numbers. We would like to thank Give a Child a Toy who has already provided us with funding to purchase all new furniture, equipment, and learning materials for the new space!