Firstly, thank you very, very much – whether you are a donor or a subscriber (or both) – your interest and enthusiasm for our work is so important to us.
In the new year we will be launching a new theme for our website. It looks great so far and works really well on the mobile devices – something that 80% of our visitors are using.
If there is ANYTHING that you want to hear more about, do let us know firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2021 our role as a Global Knowledge Hub for health education content and activities for children continues to hum and develop. This year we recorded downloads of our materials in a total of 142 countries! We went from a monthly average of 3955 downloads in the first 6 months to a monthly average of 3460 by the end of the year. In addition, our storybooks and other booklets are distributed by Worldreader; their quarterly reports give us precise data on the exact numbers of readers, the pages read and the countries where they are being read. We have reached thousands and thousands of readers through this platform, mostly in Africa.
The top 5 publications downloaded just from our website in 2021 were:
Please, PLEASE go and visit the resources area on our website. It really does look amazing.
2021 has been the year where we have had a lot of support from volunteers. Many of our volunteers have been helping us around their work as Masters’ students or post graduates. They have worked on a project to get us better connected with like-minded allies in a number of different countries; they have worked on research – looking at the evidence base for children as carers and influencers on other children’s health; they have helped us with Instagram; and with leaning more about the topics of anaemia; early childhood stimulation, physical activity and the scope for children to play a bigger part in educating, influencing and supporting each other. We’re so grateful for their time, energy and expertise!
2021 has been the year where we have managed to raise more funding than ever before that is not tied to specific projects. This has given us amazing freedom and we have been using it to develop our work on immunisation to tie in with the struggles in some places with vaccine hesitancy and Covid-19.
We are also using it to support projects linked to HIV/AIDS, diabetes and to design ways to help projects to involve children in conducting research on healthy and unhealthy behaviours and their root causes. This is such important work as we plan to turn the results of this work into an online training course.
If you are one of these donors – an extra big thank you. You have given our expertise its freedom ticket!
2021 has been the year where using Zoom has brought us this amazing opportunity to connect to people in Zambia, Guam, Eswatini, Kenya and the US. Not just a meeting here and there, but really deep training, mentoring and project development. We have been using WhatsApp to send videos to children and their teachers and to really learn what is happening on the ground. It’s been great.
2021 has seen our relationship with a colleague at the University of Loughborough strengthen and deepen. PhD students there have furthered our literature search on the scope for children to affect changes in early childhood stimulation and physical activity (topics that our volunteers have contributed to as well). The year is concluding with a lot of hard work from volunteers on a much needed systematic review looking at ‘Children as Agents of Change’.
Also, we have been developing other ideas too, including working together on the topic of ‘Ending Childhood Obesity’. We are hoping to further our expand our work on this next year including developing training modules based on the results of our project in Mexico.
2021 has seen some great new projects with some great new partners. These have included co-creating posters and storybooks. It’s important to remember that this is a very in-depth process – often lasting 4-6 months and the resulting resource is extremely rich and more of a teacher training resource and not just something to stick on a bookshelf or wall.
A storybook on bullying and resilience
Together with educators, public health officials and children in Guam, we co-created a storybook about bullying and resilience. The process included training a facilitator who then conducted several online classes with children. The teacher with the children then sent the results of these sessions to us and we based our story on their ideas. The story is nearly finished, and they are giving it one more read before we begin the artwork. We expect the book too be published in early 2022.
A poster on Diabetes
Our latest poster in our series is for diabetes was developed with the participation of a panel of 18 experts including medical professionals, educators, and children in Guam (and in four other countries). It was an intensive process! We are pleased with the result and that 1,500 copies of the poster have been printed and distributed to schools throughout the country. The poster is two-sided: side one has 10 messages that children can learn and share about diabetes and side two has notes for educators and ideas for activities to mobilise children to better understand, remember and share ideas about the topic.
Our work in Eswatini is progressing despite many, many months of school closures. The teachers there are currently considering how our 10 messages on HIV & AIDS need to be adapted and used in their school and how the children might pass the messages on to their family and friends. In early 2022 they will conduct a workshop with the children about the messages and find out more about the children’s experiences of HIV/AIDS on which we can then start to create a new storybook.
In this programme, the children and their teachers are learning and applying the ‘SuperBetter Approach’. We are repurposing the language and techniques of video gaming approach that identifies seven ‘rules’ – and these set out ways to overcome obstacles and challenges. Our aim is to teach the children the SuperBetter approach and apply it to everyday physical and mental health issues. Up to this point, the children have been developing a social and emotional vocabulary, including learning a dance that has taught them about resilience. Learn more about our alliance with SuperBetter.
We have been so delighted to get back to the school in Changara where we had so much fun in February 2020 – the last time I made a field trip! PCAANS is the participatory approach to learning and action for nutrition and health. My colleague, Bibiche Sangwa returned to the school and met with the children and teachers we met all those months ago and discussed how they have been coping during the pandemic and if they felt enthusiastic to revive the programme. Of course, they were! And now we are on our way to revising this programme, once against demonstrating to the district officials the skills, ingenuity and competence of these children.
One of our dreams is for people to find and repurpose our work to achieve their goals. We are very pleased that Peace Corps in Ghana have repurposed our malaria poster and created a calendar for 2022.
Let’s not forget that in 2021 we have some really major disappointments. It’s been the bigger proposals which require a great deal of preparation and work – that have failed to compete. Proposals to develop mental health in Kenya (two proposals here); storybooks and teacher education in Kenya; work on Alcohol and Tobacco – developing posters and storybooks and training teachers in Guam; working with new partners on immunisation and other health topics in Nigeria – and so on and so on… In all, these fantastically worthwhile projects could have done so well. Projects where our unique approach in mobilising children as agents of change is so needed!
This proposal writing process is exhausting and because of this we are extremely selective about the bids we take on.
It may be unusual for an organisation to include a section like this. It is hardly trumpet blowing stuff. There seems to be a diminishing pot of funding for charitable causes during the pandemic and togther with this chronic under-investment that characterises the mission of promoting health and preventing illness. Data from good sources suggest that 93-95% of health budgets are still spent on treatment and 3-5% on promoting health.
This year we have published 55 posts – just one a week. Do go and take a look at our blog!
Special thanks go to the Children for Health Trustees whose unwavering support and commitment drives this charity on. To David and Liz Gifford – our artist and author team and to Amy Collins for her brilliant calm and attentive work on our website, social media, newsletters etc. Then to our many volunteers and wonderful partners – thank you!
So goodbye 2021 – we not only survived 2020, but this year we really got back up on our feet and made an impact.
We could not have done it without you!
If you feel impressed and excited by the work we do – please consider supporting us financially (if you are not doing so already). Our friends’ donations are a lifeline for us and, as described a ‘freedom ticket’!
If you cannot support us this time around but have a friend who might – please do share this newsletter with a note to your friend.
A very happy holidays to you all!
Clare Hanbury with ZaZa and ZuZu