An innovative Toolkit titled “Nurturing the Spiritual Development of Children in the Early Years – A Contribution to the Protection of Children from Violence and the Promotion of Their Holistic Well-Being”, was developed by the Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence.
Launched in Rome, on 18th November 2022, the Toolkit will be implemented for the next two years in Brazil, India, Mexico and Pakistan, and partners in Kenya, Tanzania, Thailand and Sri Lanka are also preparing to implement in their organizations.
This new resource aims to help equip faith actors to engage actively in the protection of children from violence in early childhood and the promotion of their holistic well-being by supporting parents, caregivers, educators and communities to nurture children’s spiritual development.
A distinguishing feature of this Toolkit is the linkage it makes between spiritual development and the protection of children from violence as well as the promotion of their holistic well-being. It makes this case by presenting research on the impact of violence against children in the early years, and by describing how nurturing children’s spiritual development acts as a means to promote safe, respectful, violence-free environments; build positive relationships between parents, caregivers, educators and children; and equip adults in these roles to create empowering experiences for children.
“With the influential role of the faith communities, the Toolkit can be used to break the silence and stigma around violence against children. It can also be used to question the social and cultural norms that condone violence against children in all settings, including in the circle of trust.”
A Collaborative Process with a Focus on Child Participation
During the development stage of the Toolkit this year, eleven feasibility workshops were carried out with children and adults to assess the Toolkit’s content, approach and suggested learning program. This collaborative approach ensured that the Toolkit not only included the perspectives of adults but also embraced the valuable insights and unique experiences of the children themselves.
The wisdom and recommendations provided during these consultations were critical in the finalization of the Toolkit.
“After this workshop, I’m going to go home and tell my boy how sorry I was when I hit him, and I won’t do it again,” said one of the fathers.
“The program helped me to nature a loving relationship with my children by playing with them, telling them bible stories, appreciating them, loving them, and providing them with what they need for their holistic development and well-being,” shared one of the mothers.
“The cause of nurturing the spiritual development of children is an opportunity to protect children from violence. At the same time, it is also an opportunity for healing — for restoring and affirming the dignity of those children whose sacred right to freedom from violence has been violated — and for collaboration to support their flourishing and well-being.”
What Comes Next?
The Toolkit will be systematically implemented in four countries:
Each of the implementing organizations will integrate the Toolkit into their existing programs, varying from orphan sponsorship, family outreach, health and nutrition, and educational programs for parents, caregivers and educators with children aged 0-8 years old.
In January 2023, the Consortium received a grant from Porticus North America to fund the implementation in Mexico as part of their portfolio in the region. This grant will also support the collaboration with the Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child at the University of Notre Dame to co-develop the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning framework for a 2-year pilot implementation in the four locations. Additionally, the Fetzer Institute has provided a funding gift to the Consortium to support the implementation in other countries.
The Consortium will also launch in 2023 a series of webinars to raise awareness about the importance of the spiritual development of children, explore the scientific evidence and present evidence about its contribution to the protection of children from violence and the promotion of their well-being.
The Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence was launched in 2018. Convened by Arigatou International, the Consortium brings together civil society and faith-based organizations, religious and spiritual communities, multilateral organizations, academia, and individual experts.