Increasing Social & Emotional Competencies through a Holistic Hybrid Program
By DANIELLE DE LA FUENTE
Amal Alliance’s Colors of Kindness is an innovative EdTech,, trauma-informed program for education in emergencies. Born during the COVID-19 pandemic, the program is designed to facilitate an easy transition back to the classroom and supplement in-class learning by providing the social emotional development and support that is so often missing from traditional curriculum. Colors of Kindness helps children develop the skills necessary to cope with the new and difficult emotions that accompany emergency situations and trauma.
Colors of Kindness provides SEL curriculum via a mobile application and audio podcasts, and includes themes such as Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Responsible Decision Making, Relationship Building, and Social Awareness. Program activities include breathwork, yoga poses, movement games, simple crafts, and gratitude exercises. Through structured play, our programs are designed to ensure children, and their parents and caregivers, have access to the tools and resources they need to reach their full potential.
Colors of Kindness was born from UNHCR’s HEA COVID 19 Challenge, and was piloted in Bangladesh from Oct-Dec 2020 with 10 teachers that were trained virtually and 137 children participating. The gender inclusive model included a high percentage of girls and Rohingya refugees.
Our findings indicated that there was a 16.5% increase in social and emotional competencies, and a 99% increase in mood, behavior, and positive outlook amongst the children who participated in the program. The 0 infection rate amongst teachers, children, and families, showed in-person instruction and social distanced play can be done in a safe manner.
While no one knows what the long term consequences of 2020 will be in terms of student trauma. It is quite possible that the impact on students’ mental health won’t be apparent in the year they return, but will present themselves as learning barriers in a couple of years down the line. For this reason, it is critical to integrate programs addressing social emotional learning (SEL) & psychosocial support (PSS) as children resume classroom instruction.
Though the pilot was tested with displaced and refugee children aged 7-12 in Bangladesh, we know that many children in the Los Angeles Unified School District are experiencing similar traumas such as poverty, violence, and racial injustice. Furthermore, the LAUSD serves incredibly diverse populations including many minorities. Without their cultural experiences forming part of the learning experience, students are prone to high drop out rates. Colors of Kindness not only proved an effective intervention to boost SEL competencies and help students transition back into classroom instruction, but is deeply rooted in human dignity and cultural understanding that builds bridges of peace and tolerance. We believe these findings are an excellent indicator of future success, and are excited to bring the program to the Los Angeles area.
Adopt & Adapt
Teachers are trained virtually on how to employ this hybrid model and the fundamentals of SEL. The program provides SEL curriculum via audio podcasts that are embedded within an interactive digital workbook with visual aids that feature brightly colored geometric creatures. These figures are culturally sensitive and gender neutral to appeal to global audiences.