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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Katie-Jay Scott Stauring,, 310-738-0285

i-ACT to open preschool program for Darfuri children

LOS ANGELES, CA – May 27, 2013 – Monday, i-ACT departed to Chad for their 16th expedition. The main purpose of this trip is to prepare for the opening of Little Ripples, a comprehensive early childhood education program, in Camp Goz Amer. The team includes Gabriel Stauring, the Director of i-ACT, Jennifer Tang, Project Coordinator for Little Ripples, Jocelyn Tucker and Melissa Holcombe, Little Ripples Expert Teacher Advisors, James Thacher, i-ACT Media Specialist, and Nathan Jones, Senior Project Director at the University of Wisconsin Survey Center. With construction of the first Little Ripples pilot school just about complete, the focus of this trip will be to establish and train the first cohort of Little Ripples teachers and conduct a baseline assessment.

Built in partnership with Jesuit Refugee Services and the UN Refugee Agency, the call for a comprehensive preschool program came from the refugee community. In an effort to keep their families alive, parents often leave their children at home without supervision and education. The project will not only promote early childhood development, but will also create a safe environment for children to learn, grow, and heal from trauma. Little Ripples’ long-term objective is to provide preschool education for the 7,300 refugee children ages 3-5 years old in Darfuri refugee camps Djabal and Goz Amer. Tucker and Holcombe will be training Little Ripples teachers, refugee women who have completed at least a primary school education and who themselves probably experienced the violence in Darfur. The training will consist of participatory, engaging approaches to ensure that the curriculum is contextualized with the Darfuri culture. The teachers themselves will be empowered in collaborating on the stories, songs, resources, and activities that are presented in the classrooms. With the teacher training following the core values of peace, sharing, helping, and learning, the teachers will in turn model these attributes in their own classrooms and pass them along to the students.

Jones will be training and leading a team of refugees in conducting a comprehensive baseline assessment of all Little Ripples students. The questionnaires will collect information from the mother as well as the child and includes data on the child’s social, cognitive, and physical development. Additionally, Thacher and others will be collecting in-depth stories of some of the Little Ripples children and families. With a strong evaluation component to the Little Ripples program, i-ACT will be able to document the positive effects of the program not only on the students but also their families and the community.

The first school consists of 6 classrooms, an office and storage area, a kitchen (children will receive a nutritious breakfast each day, which for many may be their only meal of the day)