Every Wednesday afternoon, in the small village of Ndiao Bambaly in the heart of Senegal, a festive ritual plays out before the amused gaze of the community members: dozens of beaming children come streaming out of the houses, as if carried along by a wave of collective enthusiasm. They are all heading for the shade of a tree in the middle of the school playground. This is where the Kids' Club is held every week, an innovative activity that World Vision has launched. It's a weekly rendezvous that no child in the area can afford to miss.
The Kids' Club: fun-based educational outreach
The Kids' Clubs bolster the education of youg children and encourage their development, all with the goal of improving their well-being. Every child in the area is invited to come along and take part in educational and recreational activities that are completely free. They are supervised by a volunteer leader who has been trained by World Vision.
Through a combination of games, songs, theatre workshops and reading traditional tales, the children have a great time whilst learning and applying lessons that are useful in daily life, gradually growing into their roles as future citizens.
Jean Paul Kpogomou, National Kids' Club Coordinator: "Previously, children often didn't have the opportunity to express and develop themselves. These days, kids need to be supervised and educated as well as having fun. Since World Vision set up the Kids' Clubs, the children are happier."
Opposite: Jean Paul Kpogomou, AKA 'Bouche Bée' leads a session at Ndiao Bambaly.
The change in the children's behaviour has been well appreciated by the community, as they have begun showing more initiative and responsibility. Kamissa Camara, Kids' Club leader in Kékéressi sums up his thoughts : "The kids came up with the idea to plant trees around the school because they felt it was important to improve the school environment. I'm really proud of them because they decided to show a bit of responsibility and become friends of nature."
Play activities that encourage the participation and education of children
At these get-togethers, the children are encouraged to exchange ideas, communicate and take the floor to express themselves. This strengthens their personal skills such as self-confidence and ability for independent decision-making. The impact of the sessions is such that after just a few they are ready to perform a theatre piece in public that brings their heartfelt concerns to the awareness of parents and the authorities.
Sketch organised by the children of Ndiognick to raise awareness in the community about the importance of registering births
Beyond the passing on of values and fundamental principles such as solidarity, sharing and respect for others, the children deepen their knowledge of issues affecting their country. They come away from the experience stronger because they have learned of their rights but also of their duties as future responsible citizens.
Rokhy Vital, 8, talks about his changing habits: "Before I was going to the Kids' Club, I only used to wash with water. But since becoming a regular I've also starting using soap."
Opposite: handwashing before a meal in Kédougou.
An activity that benefits the whole community
Before a Kids' Club is established in a village, the parents and members of the community are all invited to take part in an information session. Led by World Vision teams, they are a chance for explaining how the Kids' Clubs are run and exchanging views. The parents are the first to notice the positive impact of these activities on their children's behaviour and education. For example, Marie-Pierre Faye, a mother from Ngoé, underlined that "Since kids are the fruits that will ripen in future, it's crucial for a better tomorrow that they are supervised and nurtured".