SEATTLE — Lively Minds is an organization that works to improve education and care aimed at preschool children in highly deprived communities in Ghana and Uganda. They operate based on proof that children who receive quality care in their early lives grow to be healthier, complete more education and are better equipped to contribute to an economy as adults.
A program launched in Ghana called Lively Minds Play Schemes targets early childhood development by training teachers and mothers to develop creative play-based activities. These Play Schemes combat poor kindergarten quality and inadequate stimulation, ultimately seeking to reverse the transmission of poverty by enriching development and future prospects.
A community-based approach is most effective. Taking advantage of local resources and enlisting volunteer mothers, many of whom have never had access to education or employment themselves, to assist teachers with large class sizes, relieves the need to turn to program staff for assistance.
“The training shows how to use local resources as learning materials and encourages self-sufficiency, creativity and volunteerism,” according to Lively Minds.
Rural communities in Ghana are in need of sustainable programs that reinforce new behaviors in children as an extension of improved confidence and well-being. In small groups, children learn through play by engaging five different skill-sets to enhance cognitive and socio-economic development, as well as participate in health and hygiene activities.
The Lively Minds Play Schemes program is supported by UNICEF, an organization that aims to serve as a catalyst for innovation in education.
“In the first years of life, children establish the cognitive, emotional and social foundation upon which they can build their futures,” according to UNICEF. “Early childhood is the most significant developmental period of life.”
Their research also supports the idea that early childhood development programs lead to better educational performance and allow for more employment opportunities. By empowering teachers and parents with creative techniques, UNICEF and other supporting organizations are contributing to the larger global development challenge.
Lively Minds partners with others to finance their operations, but the organization implement the initiatives. Rather than providing aid, Lively Minds focuses on lasting solutions by giving the information, skills and confidence people need to make changes in their lives. The program was one of five winners in UNICEF’s Innovations in Education Competition, as well as one of 10 champions in the Lego Foundation’s Re-Imagine Learning Competition in 2014.