What is Trauma-Free World for Children Project?
The Trauma-Free World for Children Project provides a healing and protective center for children who have suffered from psychological trauma due to natural disasters, migration, the pandemic, family loss, and bullying.
Maya Vakfı (Foundation) established the Child and Youth Center in the Balat district of İstanbul to help vulnerable children with traumatized experiences. The project aims to support children in coping with traumatic stress and to heal through creative art therapy methods. This healing center also serves as a child protection center for at-risk children and their caregivers to help them access basic services and learn their rights. The main goal of the project is to improve the psychosocial wellbeing and resilience of children by focusing on groups under protection threats and to create a “Trauma-Free World for Children”
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Maya Vakfı as an NGO is a pioneer in the mental health field in Turkey with its unique approach to MHPSS. Maya Vakfı is the first in the world to combine the Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) model, a trauma-sensitive approach, for vulnerable children in combination with innovative art therapy methodologies, including the use of photography, drawing, music, and dance as therapeutic mediums.
Sadly, children witness and experience traumatized events including violence, abuse, war, multiple displacements, migration, loss of family, inadequate parenting, extreme poverty, social discrimination, and last but not least the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The most prevalent childhood mental health conditions are depression, prolonged grief disorder, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety disorders. No child should feel this way. To remedy this, we want to improve the psychosocial wellbeing and resilience of children through arts-based MHPSS (Mental Health and Psychosocial Support) interventions.
With the project, we provide access to quality art-based mental health care during individual and group sessions. The content of each session is adapted to the needs of the group following a clinical assessment. As children’s wellbeing is closely linked with their caretakers, we also offer positive parenting sessions for caregivers, with individual counseling available to help them offer better parenting to their own children. In addition to art therapy, we also use ecotherapy in our work at the center. Nature has been proven to heal and a large urban center like Istanbul has little green public space. Giving the children access to the garden at the center is often the only natural environment they have. The use of nature and the environment as a therapeutic intervention medium promotes the mental and physical wellbeing of children through outdoor activities in a green environment.
Children also face a myriad of other protection issues such as obstacles to accessing basic services i.e., education, food security, and healthcare primarily caused by not having proper status registration documents, or more serious protection threats such as being forced into labor and early marriage. This project offers protection services to vulnerable children and their caregivers to help them access basic services and rights.
1. We reach children and their families in and around the region where the center is located.
2. After the children are registered at the Centre, we include them in art therapy-based group sessions. During the pandemic, we conduct sessions both at the center and remotely.
3. If our psychologists identify children with special needs, we conduct one-on-one sessions
4. The number of sessions can be determined according to the needs of the children. Children who complete the sessions can continue to come to the center and spend time there, doing homework and playing games.
5. We refer the applications received through our Remote Psychological Counseling Service to the center. If the beneficiary is not able to come to the center, we start the remote counseling process.
6. Through our ongoing protocol with the Ministry of National Education (MoNE), we also work within the public schools and we refer children who are in need of psychosocial support to Balat Child and Youth Center.
*Due to the pandemic, Maya Vakfı utilizes online platforms and provides remote counseling and online sessions.
Impact of Trauma-Free World for Children Project
All children and youth have the right to happy and healthy lives and deserve access to effective care to prevent or treat any mental health problems that they may develop.
Mental health — an essential part of children’s overall health — has a complex interactive relationship with their physical health and their ability to succeed in school, their communities, and in society. Both physical and mental health affects how we think, feel and act on the inside and outside.
Developing social-emotional skills such as flexibility in thinking, social problem-solving skills, solidarity, and dedication, and self-control brings an advantage to the children for possible challenging life events. Even if the level of anxiety increases, it remains at a more controllable level and makes it easier to cope with challenges and find innovative solutions.
At Balat Child and Youth Center, we help children to develop the social and emotional skills that will enable them to cope with similar challenges in the future at the individual, school, and community levels. Through the sessions we carry out at the center, children learn to cope with negative emotions and difficulties, develop positive attitudes and behaviors, produce effective solutions to the problems they face in everyday life, self-expression, and build healthy relationships.
1. Reducing symptoms associated with mental and psychosocial distress in children
2. Increasing children’s skills for psychological recovery
3. Increasing the knowledge of families about psychological trauma and enabling them to gain positive parenting skills
4. Ensuring children’s access to basic rights such as education and health
From a child’s perspective:
“Before I came to the center in Balat, I was having nightmares. Because I saw monster faces, I used to be afraid of the dark. I’m not afraid of monsters and have beautiful dreams since I hung my shield and dreamcatcher, which I made in the workshops here, on my wall. I believe they are protecting me.”
Ayşe, 8 years old.
Bring the center to life! Create a Trauma-Free World for Children!
By the end of 2022, we are aiming to reach out to 55 children.
$360 covers one child’s support.
Donations for each child will be used for:
– Implementation: 86%
– Human Resources 8%
– Administrative Costs 6%