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A Holistic Approach to Education in Emergencies: Bridging the Learning Gap and Addressing Trauma through Social Emotional Learning

Rainbow of Education

New York, NY, USA
Our Rainbow of Education seeks to empower displaced and disenfranchised youth through psychosocial support and social emotional learning. In addition to basic reading and writing, we use kids yoga, mindfulness, dance, play, and art therapy to support holistic development. Children learn interpersonal and behavioral skills which can foster emotional intelligence, resilience, and social cohesion.
Introduction

What is the Rainbow of Education?

Danielle De La Fuente, Founder and Executive Director
“We fervently believe every child has the fundamental right to learn, dream, and experience the joy of playing as a child.”

Danielle De La Fuente, Founder and Executive Director

Children can be powerful agents of change in the world when given the chance to succeed. However, global conflict and natural disasters have denied an estimated 50 million children their childhood and the opportunity to reach their full potential. Children’s vulnerabilities are amplified in emergency settings, where children are often exposed to repeated traumatic events. Adverse experiences during childhood development can negatively impact future well-being. These children can often feel hopeless and trapped in a vicious cycle of vulnerability and exploitation.

 However, we seek to interrupt this vicious cycle through unique educational opportunities. Our name Amal is the Arabic word for hope, which is the essence of our work. Instilling a sense of hope is crucial in fostering resilience, and it serves as a magical power that allows children to adapt and emotionally heal from trauma. Through the use of traditional and nontraditional methods in a child-friendly space, we teach children interpersonal and behavioral skills which foster an increase in emotional intelligence, resilience, and sense of self-efficacy. In addition to basic reading and writing, our Rainbow of Education uniquely incorporates the use of kids yoga, mindfulness, dance, and art theory to support holistic development. 

We offer children a chance to once again enjoy their childhood in a safe space despite the circumstances. They can engage in the therapeutic and developmentally appropriate act of play, which provides an opportunity to informally address underlying trauma. This is critical in nurturing their ability to acquire and develop the social, cognitive, and physical competencies that affect children’s present realities and future successes.

We also promote social cohesion by welcoming students from all backgrounds. Our safe spaces are areas in which children and teachers from different backgrounds can come to encounter and learn from one another. We emphasize social emotional learning to better the interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence necessary to build more peaceful communities. In addition, the teachers whom we train from both the host and refugee communities ensure the sustainability and cultural relevance of our programs by integrating local values and customs. We build upon the existing strengths and resources of a particular community, engaging in capacity building and professional development. 

The original Rainbow of Education is a six month program designed to holistically support all aspects of childhood development from ages 7 to 12. We also have a 14-week version for children ages 3 to 6 that emphasizes early childhood development. Both curricula use colors of the rainbow to address a different theme foundational to a child’s socio-emotional well-being. The themes addressed include kindness, resilience, empathy, compassion, communication, dreams, emotional regulation, community building, and conflict resolution.

Since 2018, Amal Alliance has impacted the lives of 1100 children, training 73 teachers and capacitating nine organizations in Greece, Lebanon, and Turkey. The great impact achieved in two years speaks to the need for and the effectiveness of our programs. In fact, UNHCR named our model as “most promising holistic practice” at the inaugural Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, Switzerland. We hope our work can serve as a tool to foster peace and harmony between people of all backgrounds. 

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Innovation Overview
ALL
Target Group
1 100
Children/Users
4
Countries
2017
Established
Not-for-profit
Organisation
310
Views
Tips for implementation
The Rainbow is offered in a 14-week ECD and 6-month Primary version, which can be repeated as needed. We establish partnerships with local organizations to create child-friendly safe spaces and train teachers from both the host and refugee communities to ensure sustainability and cultural relevance.
Contact information
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See this innovation in action

Sessions with Give a Hand - Istanbul, Turkey (Summer 2018)
Building Trust - Bednayel, Lebanon
Backgammon in Greece
Early Childhood Development program with IHA in Lagadikia, Greece
Superhero Cape Making in Istanbul, Turkey
Teacher Training - Thessaloniki, Greece June 2019
Classes in Boudai, Lebanon
Teacher Training - Baalbek, Lebanon Oct 2018

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