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Effect study in collaboration with research institutes

South Sudan and Colombia

Peforming for Peace in Colombia In 2012 War Child’s IDEAL programme was evaluated in Colombia and South Sudan. Approximately 200 children and young people participated in this evaluation. They examined whether they had reached the goal they had set for themselves before starting the programme, and if IDEAL had contributed to their achievement. IDEAL is a psychosocial life skills programme for children and young people who grow up in conflict-affected areas. Through IDEAL, they learn to cope with the stress in their daily lives, and regain their confidence and trust. Children participate in music, dance, drama, and games in workshops, facilitated weekly over a period of three to six months by local project staff with groups of 15 to 25 children. IDEAL was developed by War Child in 2006. The programme is currently running in ten countries.

This in-depth effect study was carried out in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam, the Dutch Youth Institute, HealthNet-TPO and Universidad Nacional (Colombia). In the Netherlands War Child involved external experts such as Dr. Mark Jordans, technical advisor and researcher at HealthNet- TPO, Professor Tom van Yperen, specialised in effect studies in youth care, and Frits Boer, Professor Emeritus in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Amsterdam Medical Centre, in the study.

This study evaluated the effects of IDEAL as well as the factors that influence them, namely the quality of the intervention’s content and implementation. With the findings War Child will further strengthen its psychosocial support to children affected by armed conflict. The research also aims to make an international contribution towards addressing existing gaps in knowledge regarding psychosocial support interventions for children and young people affected by armed conflict.

The main conclusions from South Sudan:

  • Based on the findings it can be concluded that what is taught in IDEAL is largely in line with local perception of wellbeing.
  • After finishing IDEAL, 77% of the participants in South Sudan reported personal improvements such as fighting less and being less aggressive. These behaviour changes were also confirmed by teachers and facilitators.
  • Other changes reported by participants were improvements regarding friendships and social skills (32%) and relationships with adults (19%).
  • Teachers also point towards improved academic performance, which indicates a possible link between psychosocial support and educational progress.
  • Changes in individual levels of psychosocial distress (measured by the internationally acknowledged SDQ-test) vary greatly and further analysis is being done to explain these variations. This could give us insight in factors that influence our programme, and which children benefit most from IDEAL. Such information can be taken into consideration in future implementation.

The feedback from the children gathered about the content of the sessions is being used to revise and improve the IDEAL modules in 2013.

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