"Drawing from their unique culture, the involvement of its members, and collaboration with stakeholders, communities can together grow from their own strengths, passing this on as an invaluable gift to their children."
Cartwheel Foundation, Inc. (Cartwheel PH) has become immersed in the challenges confronting the Tagbanua communities of Culion, Palawan in actively engaging them through the years. Among these are the psychosocial and physical health needs of Indigenous Peoples (IP) learners and the wider community. To address these issues, Cartwheel PH re-imagined its Early Childhood Education program, allowing it to evolve into an enhanced Early Childhood Development (ECD) program.
The new, holistic ECD model is focused on building resilience of the IP child, as well as his or her social environment. There are two key components that add value to this model: the integration of psychosocial approaches and the provision of health opportunities.
The component on psychosocial integration is called THRIVE (Trauma-informed Healing and Resilience strengthening in Vulnerable Environments). It is premised on the recognition that the child’s social, emotional and physical well-being impact on his or her cognitive growth. THRiVE leverages the ECD classroom as a safe space for healing and learning. It promotes the practice of self-care and empathy among the child’s adult caregivers. It also strengthens the home-school connection in providing opportunities for families to become more engaged in the education and well-being of their children.
Cartwheel PH’s health component called LUSOG (Linking the UnderServed with Opportunities for Growth and Health) was initiated by development partner, Cartwheel Foundation International. It works to ensure that the various role players in the child’s development are actively engaged in safeguarding his or her physical well-being.
LUSOG began with research that considers the unique circumstances of the community and determines factors that shape its health profile. Great emphasis is given to engage with the public health system and give an extra push to mandated agencies in shaping more IP-sensitive health services and policies.
In the most recent training series offered for the community teachers and development facilitators of Culion in June 2017, the enhanced ECD model was further explored in light of the Rights-Based Approach. Human rights, IP rights, and children’s rights were together reviewed; learning discussions focused on how teachers are significant duty-bearers for the learners whom they serve. Relevant guidelines drawn from Cartwheel PH’s Child Protection Policy were presented as the most practical means of upholding the rights of children, who are often most vulnerable to abuse.
Cartwheel PH’s collective experience with its various indigenous partners demonstrate the relevance of resilience-focused, rights-based approaches to communities facing adversity. Drawing from their unique culture, the active involvement of its members, and collaboration with other stakeholders, indigenous communities can together build on and grow from their own strengths, passing this on as an invaluable gift to their children.