A Training of Trainers workshop on the Toolkit: Nurturing the Spiritual Development of Children in the Early Years was held in Mexico City from 12 to 16 June 2023. This was the first of its kind in Mexico and the second in a series of four workshops, following on from the successful workshop held the previous month in Curitiba, Brazil.
The workshop aimed at empowering trainers with the knowledge, skills, and tools required to design, plan, execute, monitor, and evaluate training programs for facilitators who will work directly with parents, caregivers, and educators.
The workshop gathered 20 participants, including Catholic Sisters, psychologists, educators and staff members from the organizing partners that have committed to implementing the Toolkit into their existing programs in the field. The workshop was hosted by the Franciscan Sisters, and co-organized by Arigatou International and World Vision – Mexico. The Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child at the University of Notre Dame, which are leading the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) framework, also supported the workshop and guided the MEL processes. The workshop was also observed by Porticus North America, who funded the first two years of implementation in Mexico as well as the global MEL framework development.
During the workshop, participants reflected on the importance of spiritual development in the model of holistic development in early childhood, our own understandings of spirituality, and the criticality of nurturing one’s own spirituality in order to nurture children to develop to their full capacities spiritually.
In the kick-off, Mr. José Antonio Ruiz, National Officer for Child Protection from UNICEF México, joined the session, to present important statistics about the challenges children face regarding violence in the country. It was a thought-provoking moment that reminded the attendants of the significance of protecting children, especially in the early years, and the importance of such workshops.
Throughout the 5 days, participants delved deeply into the connection between nurturing the spiritual development of children and their protection from violence. Participants explored how the brain develops and the impact of violence on its development, as well as exploring the critical importance of three key conditions that support children’s holistic well-being. These conditions, empowering experiences, positive relationships and safe, respectful and violence-free environments, were examined through different activities and group work.
Participants also considered how they would cascade their learnings to other adults in their communities and organizations, who would later be trained as facilitators, and think about conducting this learning program to empower parents, caregivers, and educators to nurture the spiritual development of children in the early years. The training highlighted the need to tailor the sessions of the Toolkit to diverse cultural, religious and spiritual contexts, and how to address diverse types of violence affecting children and families in the communities in which they work.
At the end of the week, participants shared that the workshop provided them with both professional skills and personal spiritual growth, especially with the focus on oneself. “It is never too late to think about yourself and take some time to meditate, find yourself and give priority to oneself as a person,” said one of the participants. Through this connection with oneself, participants also shared that it reinvigorated their personal motivation and passion for working with children and families as it enabled them to understand spirituality as the interconnectedness with others.
Also, participants shared how they enjoyed the methodology and learning process of the workshop as it provided them with deep personal growth through practical activities that connected the theory to their realities. One participant said that, “It exceeded my expectations and was a radical change in my personal and professional life.”
The Franciscan Sisters and World Vision – Mexico will implement the Toolkit systematically for the next year and a half within their existing programs, expecting to reach 4,700 parents and caregivers through on-site training in four regions of Mexico.
We thank our partners for working hand in hand with us on this one-of-a-kind project and extend heartfelt gratitude to all participants, who are now pioneer trainers on the spiritual development of children, for paving the way to make a real difference in the lives of families and children across Mexico.