HAPPY, with its slogan ‘bringing childhood back to children,’ has been active, mostly on our campus with a few exceptional sessions that we had to implement locally when safety was an issue. This foundational preschool program targets a new approach to early childhood education and brings change to children, their parents and their teachers. Thank you Beit Jiddi Foundation and Taawon/Lebanon.
SHARE, ‘Spreading Hope and Reviving Education,’ continues for the fifth year in a row, targeting children in grades 5-8 living in and around the Shatila camp for Palestinian refugees. This powerful long-term program renews the students’ commitment to learning and growing. Thank you Beit Jiddi Foundation.
Rainbow is back at ULYP and has been relaunched to bring the ray of light in the form of education to rekindle hope and retain children at school. Rainbow works in five different locations around Lebanon and targets refugees and host community children to strengthen their academic performance in English, Math and coding. Thank you, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund.
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!
The SHARE (Spreading Hope & Reviving Education) program for the children, youth and communities residing in and around the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila in Beirut, ended on a high this summer.
204 children took part in the program’s sports and art activities, the most we have ever had! And after completing the semester successfully, the SHARE students hosted two events to bring the community together: a sporting event where three teams from the Shatila camp went head-to-head in a competitive basketball and football tournament, and an exhibition showcasing the student’s upcycled pieces of art for all to see.
Intensive English classes were also held throughout the summer. This part of the program hosted 80 children at our center in Shatila and on our beautiful campus in Dibbiyeh where the participants have access to a recently built basketball court and a football field. These students worked hard throughout the summer, investing their time to learning English beyond their school education and preparing themselves for the upcoming academic year. To end the semester with a memorable event we took our English learners to the great outdoors in Arnaoon village. There, many discovered the thrill of zip lining, the freedom of mountain biking, the serenity of being in nature and much more.
Following the success of this summer, we are proud to announce that SHARE will be back for another semester this fall. A big thank you to the Beit Jiddi Foundation who will once again give us the opportunity to spread hope and revive education. See you soon!
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.
As we made our way to ULYP’s campus in Dibbiyeh for my first day volunteering with HAPPY, I realized that I had no idea what to expect or whether the few words of Arabic I had mastered would actually get me through my first day of preschool. By the time we arrived on campus, I was beset with questions like: What if no one likes me? What if I do something embarrassing? What if I forget the Arabic words I learned?
With my anxiety rising, I nervously entered the classroom only to see 25 children’s faces all laden with the very same expression as mine. As each of us looked around the room, recognizing ourselves in one another, we became united and I started to notice courage replacing the looks of doubt. I sensed the eager excitement in the room growing as the nervousness slowly disappeared, and before I knew it, as we all joined hands to sing the hokey-pokey. Any worries I had before were replaced by feelings of opportunity and hope.
Now, I wake up every morning confident that it will be another HAPPY day, motivated by the smiles on the children’s faces as they have fun learning and exploring. I am halfway through my time volunteering on ULYP’s HAPPY Program, yet I already find myself struggling to imagine returning to my ‘pre-HAPPY’ life in the UK.
Rain or shine, HAPPY students kept warm hearts and minds through a changing winter. 100 children inaugurated our new preschool, where they enjoyed learning new letters and vocabulary, engaging with classic children’s tales and exploring their creative sides! Students began and ended each day with a joyful song and dance, and practiced cooperation and healthy behaviors at snack time and recess.
This season, students particularly enjoyed reading their own books on the carpet or exploring outside. Using goats eating grass to demonstrate the letter G was a particular hit! Their teachers also appreciated learning new teaching methods which they are eager to implement back in their own classrooms.
HAPPY is run in partnership with United Palestinian Appeal.
ACT’s second semester started in March with a new group of 150 boys and girls, all eager to learn. As with semester one, the children come from very underprivileged communities with dire needs for programs allowing them to explore and pursue their potential. After reflecting on semester one, ULYP came up with our best practices to implement this time around. These include more team building activities earlier on in the semester, as the children lack confidence and are not comfortable or accustomed to working with others.
In April, the ACT children learned all about photography from their peers at the American Community School (ACS). This was a continuation of another project ULYP implemented last academic year with ACS, called Hekayat. Hekayat in Arabic means tales or stories. The previous Hekayat project involved ACS children coming to our campus with their cameras to meet and interact with ULYP children and document their stories. This year, the roles were reversed: the ULYP children, namely the ACT participants, were given disposable cameras and charged with the task of documenting moments from their lives. However, before taking their cameras home, mixed groups of ACS and ACT students spent a day learning from each other, and practicing taking photos against the backdrop of ULYP’s beautiful campus. The next and final step of these Hekayat min ACT will include another meeting between both groups to edit the photos, choose their favorites and write the stories behind them. Thank you ACS for your support of Hekayat.
In May, the teachers and caregivers of the ACT children attended a one day TOT. Through two workshops, ULYP passed on our lessons learned, activities implemented and materials used at ACT to the teachers and caregivers, in order for them to sustain the effects of the program beyond its timeline. This is common practice within ULYP’s programs, and helps us to strengthen and widen the circle of impact.
Also in May, two HSBC executives visited the program. Thank you to Mr. Peter Yeates and Ms. Sarah Jerejian for your visit, for sharing your smiles with the children and mostly for your continued support.
ACT is carried out in partnership with Future First.
On March 22, over 6000 enthusiastic children and youth ran the 5km Youth Marathon in Dbayeh. ULYP’s participation in the marathon was made possible thanks to First National Bank (FNB), who sponsored 18 underprivileged children to run. Additionally, children from the American Community School (ACS) paid twice the established race fees in order for a child from a ULYP program to be able to participate alongside them.
In addition to the race, running shoes collected by the Beirut Marathon Association will be distributed to underprivileged children in our network. ULYP is very grateful for the support of the BMA, and hopes that proper running shoes will give these children the possibility to feel the joy of running and to contribute to a healthy and happy lifestyle.
ULYP would like to give a big thank you to all the participants, the BMA, the students at ACS and to FNB for sponsoring children’s race fees and transport.
So far the Caring Coats Campaign has been a great success! We’ve already received a lot of winter clothing for our underprivileged children, and we would like to thank you for cleaning out your closets and thinking of the families in the cold.
But, we still need more! That’s why we have decided to extend the campaign until 7th December. Please spread the word and let us know how we can help you help the families in need before the winter really starts.
On August 30th, more than 250 children from different backgrounds –Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian—gathered at a centre in Al-Baddawi camp for a day to celebrate education. The children got to know each other, play together and speak about their dreams for the future. The entire day was organized by Fouad Fayez Al Banna, a Palestinian refugee living in Tripoli who is actively involved in his community.
Fouad has been organizing many events in the Al-Baddawi camp. This time, he says: “The idea was in my mind to make something in the camp that involves the greatest number of children…Education and young people are the tool to change.”
Apart from organizing cultural and educational events in his community, Fouad studies Biology at the Lebanese American University (LAU), on an UNRWA scholarship. Through the scholarship, he has become involved with ULYP. He has volunteered as an English teacher, and was nominated by ULYP to take part in the Clinton International Summer School this year.
ULYP is my essential supporter and my second family. Here I met great people like Mrs. Melek and Mr. Salim Karroum. Here I built strong bonds with great friends. Here I was supported to believe in myself, in my potential and dreams. ULYP taught me that dreams will come true if we work for them.
ULYP has supported a number of projects and events that Fouad has organized. The Day of Education was financed and supported by Al Najdeh association, the Global Network of Rights and Development (GNRD), and by ULYP.
Fouad Fayez Al Banna, LAU student and community activist