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.
Target around 500 children
The wonderful HAPPY program welcomed six classes to our campus this academic year for our interactive, holistic preschool program. Each group took part in four weeks full of lessons and activities designed to grow their comprehension of the English language through songs, art, play and more. The program brought us as much joy as it did the children, who often told us phrases like: “I wake up early when I have HAPPY,” and “I prepared my clothes a day early for HAPPY, I was so excited”.
Alongside the improvements in the children’s learning, HAPPY also supported their teachers’ and parents’ understanding of early childhood development. Preschool teachers observed ULYP teachers and attended a training session hosted in ULYP’s new training room in Beirut. This session explored early childhood brain development, learning stages and the impact of trauma and displacement. The teachers reported learning a number of new skills and noted that the children were better prepared for the next stage of their education as a result of HAPPY. This was validated during ULYP’s visits to the preschools in the camps and gatherings where we were proud to see so much of the HAPPY methodology transferring to these classes. This year, HAPPY directly impacted 140 children, over 100 parents and 18 teachers.
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!
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.
With leaves falling and the weather changing, our HAPPY preschool program was packed with activities. The 112 children engaged during this period explored the world around them and learned about hygiene and healthy nutrition along with math, English and outdoor activities. Songs were sung from the top of their lungs, stories were read and acted out and the smiles and laughter during class were contagious!
As always at ULYP, we concluded the program with a Training of Trainers (TOT) designed to sustain the change and expand the opportunity for more children to experience the learning that HAPPY promotes. The teachers from participating preschools attended the session focusing on methodologies, theories and practices to increase math and literacy essentials in their own programs. After the training, teachers understood that one story can be read in many ways and for different learning purposes. One said, “I can’t wait to do a shared reading with my students to get them more engaged and speaking in English in class!”
This season concludes a year of HAPPY in partnership with UNICEF and Taawon Lebanon, within the Support Early Childhood Education Development Program. We look forward to learning with more HAPPY faces in the new year.
It was a hot summer, yet the HAPPY preschool students stayed cool by exploring sea animals and putting on a play in English for their parents. One hundred five-year-old girls and boys engaged in HAPPY and benefitted from the opportunity to actively learn and explore indoors and outdoors. HAPPY is in partnership with UNICEF and Taawon- Lebanon.
Teachers and staff attended a one-day workshop on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in early childhood education in August, helping them stay up-to-date on the latest research while understanding how to apply the information in the classroom.
“If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” Alfie Kohn
The HAPPY program (Happy Alternative Program for Preschoolers and Youth) is off to a very successful start this year. 150 preschoolers and their 12 teachers have completed their sessions on ULYP’s campus in Dibbiyeh. In May, the participating teachers, after having the opportunity to engage in the HAPPY methodology, will attend a one-day workshop to cement their knowledge and understand the rationale behind our approach to teaching and learning so they can continue the change in their preschools.
HAPPY considers children as active learners, and engages the students in an interactive and immersive learning experience that uses stories, songs, art, and activities indoors and outdoors to teach English, math, science, and behavioral skills. During the program, ULYP teachers witnessed increased self-confidence and rapid improvement among the children, particularly in English language and sharing skills. We are halfway through the second module with equally bright and creative students! HAPPY is part of the Support Early Childhood Education Development Program, in partnership with UNICEF and Taawon-Lebanon.
Since the very first time I set foot in Lebanon, a few years ago, I knew that this amazing country was a place where I had to live. That was the reason why I looked to Lebanon when it was time for me to do an internship as a part of my studies in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies at Uppsala University in Sweden.
The first time I heard about ULYP was before I even travelled to Lebanon. A friend of mine told me about this organization and all its important work with children and youth. The second time I heard about it was one of my first nights in Lebanon when I met a girl who volunteered in one of ULYP’s programs. After that, all of a sudden, it seemed that everywhere I turned people where talking about this rather small organization and their amazing work. I did not meet a single person with a bad thing to say about ULYP. It was impossible to not be interested in their work and I ended up applying for an internship there.
When I think back of my time at ULYP, there is one word that directly pops into my mind; happy. HAPPY was not only the name of the program I volunteered in, but it is also the perfect way to describe the children in the program, as well as the feeling I had during my whole stay in Lebanon interning at ULYP. I have worked a lot with children in the past, but the happiness these children showed me was something I had never seen before. From the very first day in the program the children managed to meet every activity with a genuine enthusiasm. It was clear to me that these children were deeply happy to attend the program and to be able to participate in activities on ULYP’s campus. To be a part of giving these children that feeling of happiness is priceless. That also made me genuinely happy.
After meeting these children it did not take me long to understand why so many people were talking about ULYP. ULYP’s work makes a difference for the children! And all of a sudden, I was one of those people talking enthusiastically about ULYP’s work to people I met.