As the New Year begins, join us for a review of the amazing services at the Spafford Children's Center (SCC) that you help to support. January 2023 means a new semester of classes and activities at the Spafford Children's Center in East Jerusalem. The halls are filled with laughter and hugs as teachers and students see each other again after a break. Palestinian children know the SCC is a safe place, at a time when much in their communities is uneasy and insecure. Like all children they learn best in a calm, supportive atmosphere; an environment like the SCC.
Math, English, and Arabic Classes
At the SCC the strengths and needs of each child is assessed and then matched with other children who have similar needs so that they can learn with and from each other. SCC puts two or three kids in a class with one teacher and then the magic begins. In a 13-week semester of one or two sessions a week, the children gain between one and two years of educational content. Soon they are not only doing arithmetic and higher math, but also conjugating verbs in both English and Arabic. Most important they feel good about themselves and their skills and capacities.
Art and Dance Lessons
When the academic sessions are over there are art classes where children express their creativity. Or maybe they skip down the hall to the dance studio where ballet or debkah lessons are underway. Trying new things that require concentration and practice helps to teach valuable skills….and they are fun.
Trauma Treatment Program
Many Palestinian children live with stress. Walking to school means seeing, and sometimes being searched by heavily armed police or soldiers. Even coming to the SCC requires children and their mothers to pass through the gates of the Old City where Palestinian women wearing a hijab are sometimes hassled and searched. These families live with constant environmental stresses and also deal with issues like limited income, illness, and inter-generational squabbles. Whatever is affecting children, they can talk it out with a trained trauma therapist. They sense the acceptance and safety as the therapist uses games, art, individual counseling, and exercise to help the children express their feelings.
Occupational and Speech Therapy
Poor impulse control, hyperactivity, or lack of concentration on school work can be indications that occupational therapy may be needed. Speech therapy helps children who may have swallowing difficulties, articulation issues, or communication challenges. At the SCC there are trained therapists and equipment to help children make progress. Soon children are communicating with their peers and families. As one mother said, “She wouldn’t say a word; now she won’t stop talking. We love it.”
Women’s Empowerment and Father’s Engagement Programs
Mothers need the support of other women, inspiration, and knowledge to encourage their children and families to grow and thrive in difficult circumstances. SCC provides workshops, discussion sessions, and activities to help women. Through computer classes, sessions on childhood stages, and activities encouraging women to express their feelings, the SCC recognizes the importance of mothers in the development of children. Fathers come to SCC to do activities with their children like building towers with plastic cups and drawing pictures of their families or watching their children perform a play or music.
Children who need individualized testing by a PhD psychologist find that service available at a reasonable rate at the SCC. The test results help the SCC social worker and teachers find the best mix of academic, therapeutic, and recreational activities for each child.
Palestinian culture is rich and vibrant and at SCC it finds expression in debkah dancing, storytelling, literature, art, and music. Whatever the medium, the strength of Palestinian culture is celebrated at SCC.
We hope you will continue to support the services and activities of the Spafford Children's Center in 2023. If you ever have any questions, write to us at SpaffordUSA@gmail.com. Thank you for your generosity.
Matt and Wendy
The Rev. Canon Matthew Dayton-Welch, ChairandWendy Whiting Blome, PhD, Secretary/TreasurerAmerican Friends of the Spafford Children's Center