So far this year we have had over 669 daily participants at our programs which include: street outreach, drop-in center activities (art, education, meals, shelter), skateboarding lessons, and field trips.
**Note: Some participants forget to sign in when they come to receive services at our drop-in center (many of those children being high on inhalants or very lethargic/ill) so we estimate that actual number of daily participants to be somewhere around 800.
A majority of the participants have benefited from attending our programs in the following ways:
Learned to write their names in both English and Bangla
Overall health and hygiene increased significantly (we have been weighing our participants weekly to monitor their weight increase). We have also deloused all of our participants who all had severe cases of head louse.
Started attending school regularly (most of our kids are enrolled in a high-quality private school).
Attending tutoring sessions in the evening at our drop-in center
Quit abusing inhalants
Are excelling at skateboarding and are constantly learning new tricks.
Have learned to read and write English and Bangla letters and numbers.
Resolved behavioral issues are getting along with others and showing respect for authority figures and themselves.
Set goals for their future
Stopped wetting the bed at night (some of our participants over the age of 12 were wetting the bed at night, most likely due to the traumatic experiences they faced when they were living on the streets.)
Learned to listen and follow directions with little disruptive behavior during educational sessions.
Stopped wandering off by themselves during skate sessions at public parks.
Received mentoring from regular staff and local volunteers/regular visitors to our programs.
24 hour access to a safe space where they can sleep, eat, have a shower, play board games, color, paint, practice skate tricks, watch TV, and be cared for by our local staff. Our drop-in center is stocked with food, art and school supplies, clothing and wardrobe, personal care items, over-the-counter meds, First-Aid supplies, sofas, pillows, blankets, a TV, shoes, backpacks, plants that help purify air, skateboards, lots of books, and board games.
Received educational lessons on: Child Rights, Respecting Their Own and Other’s Emotions, Problem Solving, and Environmental Pollution Awareness
Received emergency medical care: root canals, typhoid/jaundice vaccines, infected wound care. Also, many of our participants come to us with fevers/colds which they receive over-the-counter medicine for. We also provide daily vitamins for children that live at our drop-in-center.
In a participant survey conducted at the beginning of this year, all participants stated that they did not feel safe at all when they were living on the streets and that they feel very safe when they are participating in our programs.
The participant responses to the survey also showed that they like our mentoring program the most and our skate program second best. This clearly shows the importance to them of having caring adults in their lives. With the support of our mentors, our participants are able to navigate the many problems and barriers they face with confidence, knowing they are loved and supported no matter what trouble comes. These children are not used to being
treated with respect by adults. Our mentoring program is the foundation upon which all of our other programs stem from. Moving forward, we will be inviting many more respected members of the wider community to visit our programs so that they can positively engage with our participants and inspire them to keep moving in a positive direction.
When we take our participants to places that they haven’t had access to in the past such as good-quality restaurants, parks in diplomatic areas, movie theaters, and upscale shopping malls, they are able to broaden the view of possibilities for their lives, giving them hope for a better future. We are also helping to create a space for them in these places where people from the upper and middle classes do not expect to see them.
To wrap up, we are super stoked that we have an equal male to female attendance rate, but we hope to increase the number of females in our programs in the upcoming months. Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage involving girls under the age of 15, and this rate is especially high among the marginalized communities we work in. With many of our female participants getting close to the age of adolescence, we are getting pretty desperate to find ways in which we can substantially support them so they do not become victims of child marriage. Giving girls from impoverished families more opportunities in sports, education, and the arts, empowers them now and in the future when they will pass the torch of hope to their children and future generations to come. Help us continue to support more smart, creative, radical skater girls in Bangladesh by visiting our website’s Donation tab to explore the different ways you can help keep them stoked on life!