In 2009, CorStone launched the Children’s Resiliency Program in India to help empower at-risk children and youth with the strengths, tools and support needed to deal more effectively with life challenges and crisis. The program seeks to prevent and mitigate the mental and social costs that so often result from trauma, poverty, conflict, abuse, or discrimination. The program focuses particularly on adolescent girls, using simple evidence-based practices shown to decrease depression, anxiety and hopelessness, increase optimism, increase academic performance, and diminish the likelihood of involvement with interpersonal conflict and violence.
Over a period of six months, six teachers at the Hope Project in Basti Hzt. Nizamuddin, New Delhi, conducted the Children’s Resiliency Program with 97 girl students, ages 10-18. The Hope Project is a well-respected local nonprofit that operates a school, medical clinic, job training program, and other services in a 400 year old Muslim village — many of its residents in poor health, illiterate, and living in poverty, with cultural norms that have traditionally frowned upon secular education, particularly for girls. Most of the girls in the program are the first in their family to attend school.
Each one-hour weekly session consisted of a specially-designed resiliency curriculum developed by CorStone, followed by peer support and open sharing using tools and practices from the fields of Positive Psychology, Attitudinal Healing and Restorative Practices (conflict resolution/problem-solving).
Sangath, an internationally recognized mental health firm based in India, conducted the evaluation on behalf of CorStone. The assessment included standardized mental and behavioral health scales as well as semi-structured interviews with the teachers and students. Changes in optimism/pessimism (a good indicator of self-esteem), locus of control (self-agency), and a broad range of emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and peer problems were all assessed.
The results are, in a word, “Awesome”…
- 81% of the girls attended all sessions
- School attendance was highest on days of the program
- Student ratings were consistently high on all factors including:
- Relevance to daily life
- Quality of the topics
- Positive impact on relationship and communicatios with peers and family
- Ability to handle problems
- Ability to concentrate and focus on studies
- Students scoring Normal on the standardized psychological assessments increased from 52.6% in pre-test to 64.9% at post-test (after 23 weeks of the intervention);
- Students scoring Borderline decreased from 28.9% to 18.6% at midpoint (12 weeks) to 5.2% at post-test
– Students scoring Abnormal decreased from 18.6 to 10.3% at midpoint to 5.2% at post-test.
“We get feedback through the children. That our parents are saying “You have changed a lot and you don’t get angry much now. It is good and we like it”. There is a lot of change in those children who would get angry very easily. I have some children in my class also, now they have got a lot of control over their anger.” (Teacher)
“I liked [the program] because many of the strengths being explored were what we actually have, but we sometimes used to feel those to be our weakness. But now we realize that it was not a weakness, but actually a strength that we have and we should not change but encourage it and this would give us a chance to explore other hidden strengths lying within us.” (Student)
Want to learn more? Please click here for the full report.
In 2011 we plan to launch the program with 1,000 students, primarily adolescent girls, in 10 non-profit schools in severe high-need communities. We’ll be using a randomized control design to confirm effectiveness. The program will likely be run in Mumbai and Gujarat, though final locations have yet to be confirmed.
We need your help to expand this exciting and promising program to more at-risk children in India and other developing countries! Please Donate!
Steve Leventhal, Executive Director