Honeyman presents research at Kigali Conference

posted Jan 4, 2015, 1:37 AM by Catherine A. Honeyman
In collaboration with Michelle Ell of Global Communities, Dr. Honeyman presented a research poster at the 2014 International HIV Conference, held in Kigali in December. The poster, titled "Playgroups: Increasing Life Skills Among Vulnerable Children in Rwanda" attracted the interest of a number of conference attendees representing different organizations working with HIV/AIDS affected families.

Play is critical to a child’s development. Early in childhood, play supports the development of social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being. It is “…a natural tool for children to develop resiliency as they learn to cooperate, overcome challenges, and negotiate with others” (Milteer and Ginsburg, 2012). Through play, children develop language and social skills, creativity, imagination and thinking skills (Fromberg and Gullo, 1992). Unfortunately, vulnerable children tend to be isolated from others in the community and may face obstacles that prevent them from engaging in play (Milteer and Ginsburg, 2012). Programs working with vulnerable children face a challenge of promoting play, and creating safe, affordable, and sustainable options.

In 2011, the Social Services for Vulnerable Populations (SSVP) Program in Rwanda, known as “Higa Ubeho”, initiated playgroups to deliver age appropriate services to young children, and to enhance parent/caregiver knowledge and practices. This initiative includes a weekly gathering for 1-2 hours that promotes the emotional and physical development of young children through structured and unstructured play. Volunteers run the playgroups and parents are encouraged to accompany their children in order to build supportive relationships and to foster a sense of belonging in the family and community.

In 2013, Ishya Consulting was contracted to undertake an independent assessment of the playgroups initiative along the dimensions of life skills promotion, inclusiveness, and sustainability. The full poster, including recommendations derived from the research, can be downloaded in PDF format below.
Catherine A. Honeyman,
Jan 4, 2015, 1:37 AM