At the core of our mission is creating innovative programs to create lasting change in the lives of children. One of these is HEART, Save the Children’s visionary education program, which brings the proven power of artistic expression to children in need around the world, helping them cope with traumatic events and learn the critical skills they need to reach their true potential. HEART changes children’s lives.
Save the Children has earned a global reputation for implementing state-of-the-art programs promoting the healthy development of some of the world’s most marginalized children. HEART is one of those programs. Based on extensive child development research proving that artistic expression has powerful therapeutic and educational value, especially for children in need, we aim to fully integrate HEART into all of our early childhood, education and emergency response programming.
We are creating something visionary — and through the power of the arts, achieving real and lasting change in children’s lives.
HEART is designed especially for young children in need, ages 3-14. Children struggling to grow up, trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty and limited opportunity, often compounded by trauma, like an emergency, conflict, violence, or the loss of a parent or other loved ones to HIV/AIDS. Children – some so young they can’t articulate their pain – at risk of losing hope, without ever experiencing joy.
Save the Children develops a culturally relevant, sustainable HEART curriculum to meet children’s unique needs within each community we serve. Then we train local teachers and other caregivers in the proven HEART approach, including:
• guiding children in expressive arts activities
• engaging the arts as a means for self-expression and critical skill development
• recognizing and supporting children who need special help
• involving children’s parents and communities in the process.
HEART embraces a variety of expressive arts forms. Our children draw, paint, sing, sculpt, act, dance, tell stories, write poetry, play music and more. We incorporate local arts traditions and use local arts resources. We also work with local partners and advocate with local governments for improved arts education.
HEART has been piloted in six places – El Salvador, Haiti, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal and the West Bank – changing the lives of more than 10,000 children, with remarkable results:
• healing – Children develop the ability to express and regulate their emotions, improve self-control and self-esteem, recover and build resilience – so they’re ready to learn.
• learning – Children develop the cognitive skills they need to learn – perception, attention, memory, logic and reasoning – in addition to language, social and physical skills.
Children who participate in HEART are consistently more expressive and engaged in learning. They like going to school and transition more successfully to higher levels of education. Some children experience hope, and even joy, for the first time in their lives.