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health problems all through their early years, lose 40 percent more school days through acute illness than do other children in the , and are 20 times more likely to be absent from school because of chronic health problems. The focus of the  programme is on pregnant women and young mothers, and their infants and toddlers. It addresses the health and nutritional needs of mothers, provides support in their parenting role, and encourages personal development, further education and preparation for work. To carry out the programme, university students and staff draw out, develop and bring into play the strengths of local women. Through home visits, these women then provide person-to-person advice and help to families in need of support.

children’s development in the context of the family and the community, starting before birth; and for helping people to help themselves. The Committee stressed the effectiveness of the peer-to-peer approach in supporting isolated families in a sustainable way; and also highlighted the programme’s important contribution to preparing students and academia for formulating innovative social policies that contribute to the development of society. In her acceptance speech for , the Director of the Center for Health Services at Vanderbilt University, Dr Barbara Clinton, highlighted two key lessons from the programme.

The  programme started in the early 1980s in just a few sites in the Appalachian Region. Over the years, it has expanded and a second university, the University of Southern Mississippi, became involved in further expanding the programme. The programme now operates in nearly 25 sites in the States of Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Since its inception, the  programme has worked with almost 10,000 low-income, disadvantaged families. It has seen how they remain optimistic about the future despite the odds, and how they can unleash huge stores of integrity and intelligence, as they respond energetically to challenges that most of us would find overwhelming. In awarding the  programme the Oscar van Leer Award for 2001, the Selection Committee lauded  for addressing

Bernard van Leer Foundation

First, we have learned to emphasise family strengths. What stress and poverty look like, smell like, can be very disturbing to a  outreach worker. But these women are inclined, and are trained, to look through the screen of difficulties, see the strengths, and use them to motivate change. The alertness of the child, the resourcefulness of the mothers in spite of adversity, are noticed and admired. Emphasising family strengths is the backbone of the  programme. Second, we have learned to let the child lead the way. Even if the participating communities are spread out over thousands of miles, across mountains and rivers and state boundaries, among ethnically and culturally diverse groups, the common concern for children can unify people, push them to support each other. It is this common concern for children that keeps us excited and fuelled and focused.

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An n u a l R e p o r t

Annual Report 2001  

The Bernard van Leer Foundation's Annual Report for 2001. With reports on the Effectiveness Initiative, Tracer Studies, the Oscar van Leer A...

Annual Report 2001  

The Bernard van Leer Foundation's Annual Report for 2001. With reports on the Effectiveness Initiative, Tracer Studies, the Oscar van Leer A...