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Promoting healthy childhood experiences and education in vulnerable children.

Children around the world are brought up and nurtured in different environments with different social, cultural, educational, economic and social set ups among other variables that are significant for their development.

There is a concerning number of educational and behavioral challenges experienced by children and a growing number of suicide in the youth. Just what is contributing to these factors?

Socioeconomic factors are noted to play a major role in the development of mental health of children, Zheng, in his description of "Left behind" children, who are cared for by single parents and grandparents as parents migrate in search better opportunities noted that these children presented with adverse psychological effects like low mood, anxiety, antisocial behavior, learning difficulties and social isolation (Hode & Gau).

Children are born naturally curious and inherently motivated as evident by how a healthy baby actively interacts with the environment. This however changes as they are exposed to different conditions as influenced by parenting and various childhood experiences, socioeconomic status and educational demands.

Community initiatives to support healthy childhood experiences and education in Botswana.

In this article, we share the work done by an NGO in Palapye in central Botswana. Masegong Lovelight Trust caters for the vulnerable in the community namely senior citizens, orphans and the underprivileged.

Most of these children come from poor families and lack basic needs, disintegrated families and struggle with education with most of them dropping out of school at young age. They are exposed to drug abuse, crime and teenage pregnancy among other issues.

Masegong Lovelight Trust brings these kids together to engage in play, art activities and school activities including practicing reading. Most of the kids enjoy coming together to engage in the various activities. They often look forward to having holiday outings in the farm where they engage in prayers, singing, have meals and holiday gifts from well wishers.

Some of the youths among participate in praise and worship in the church. They are often in need of career guidance, education on handling relationships and often lack basic needs like clothes, sanitary towels, etc.

Masego Nkau, the founder of Masegong Lovelight foundation with two children at a dump site where they spend most of their time looking for left over food which they go to share with their family and do not attend school.

Masego Lovelight trust aims to rally the community in coming together in supporting these children, the youth and the senior citizens in the community who undergo various challenges with poverty as a major contributing factor as well as lack of social support.

Some of the challenges of the organization is getting resources to facilitate these activities as well as expertise in handling.

Botswana's children's act (2009) safe guards the rights of children through promotion of physical, emotional, intellectual, social development and general development but a lot more needs to be done especially in vulnerable children like the neglected, orphans and disabled.

Involvement of occupational therapists and other other Allied health professionals

Occupational therapists can play an instrumental role in collaborating with community initiatives and organizations.

Occupational therapist involvement with this particular organization has been to help them come up with age appropriate activities, family and staff education as well as connecting them with other support systems in the community.

Most of them need educational assessments and appropriate learning strategies that need to be implemented at schools and during learning activities with charitable organization.

There is often lack or reduced family support which needs collaboration with other disciplines like social workers and other relevant stakeholders.

Some of them possess interests and talents like singing, acting, drawing, etc. There is need to encourage involvement in these activities as well as exploration of other activities that may interest them.

Health professional can use their perspective to add value to services provided to these children through identifying gaps in policies and implementation of services to vulnerable children.



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