One Child Can Change the World – or at Least Inspire A Corner of It.
Community Action Works (CAWZ) came to life because of a child’s passion for reading and a founder’s passion to “give back” that transcended all geographic borders, cultures and race.
Zambians were inspired by a child’s passion for reading. The CAWZ founder, Dandy Manning, discovered Zambian children would read if given access to books. Any type of book was largely a luxury item, especially in remote areas. Classrooms didn't have textbooks - or 30 children shared one copy. There were no school libraries, but there was hope. And there were dreams to establish libraries. Thanks to individuals, schools, Darien Book Aid (Connecticut) and Biblionef (Netherlands), Dandy delivered more than 400 books to three targeted schools (Bauleni Street Kids Project in Lusaka and Hoge and Nambaluma schools in Chinsali, Muchinga Province) and 900 children enrolled at the schools.
Dandy also revived the chess club at Bauleni Street Kids Project in Lusaka. Between September 2008 and January 2009 participation doubled to 50 students, welcoming younger students – and more girls. Many of the students participated in a city-wide chess tournament also coordinated and sponsored by Dandy at the Lusaka Chess Club.
Community Action Works will establish toy and book libraries in Zambia to promote learning through play. We believe every child has the right to develop to his/her maximum ability. We want every child to have the opportunity to develop socially, emotionally and academically and we believe children will increase their potential when given the chance to learn through play.
Children develop skills through play, which has long been acknowledged as a crucial factor in their intellectual, motor, personal and social development. Play is related to the development of creativity, healthy brain development, self-confidence, resilience and health and fitness. Studies show that play enhances early development at least 30% and is significantly related to creative problem-solving, co-operative behaviour, logical thinking, IQ scores, and popularity.
A lot of this stimulation may come from early childhood education (ECD), but not every child has access to preschool or early learning centers. In Zambia, UNICEF reports only six (6) percent, or 144,720, of children have access to early childhood education (ECE) leaving 2.26 million children less prepared for primary school and life success. Early childhood development is not mandated and provided by the government so communities or individuals establish private, or community preschools, but not all children can afford to attend even if there is a school located in their area.
The toy and book libraries will serve these children, providing access to an informal learning environment with trained librarians who will work with children, parents and caregivers to promote learning through play. Most importantly, the toy and book libraries provide dedicated spaces where children access child-safe, high-quality, toys and books appropriate for their age and development stage. The libraries also:
- For families without access to early childhood education centers or daycares, our libraries will offer learning groups to work with children and parents or caregivers to teach children;
- Provide guidance to parents, caregivers and educators on appropriate toys that enrich a child’s development;
- Provide toys adapted for children with special needs and guidance on how to use the toys correctly; and
- Train parents, caregivers and teachers how to make low-cost educational toys.
The funds raised will be used to help us transport our donated toys (target is 2000) to Zambia and establish a flagship toy and book library in Lusaka. Our opening is scheduled for January 2014.
Community Action Works, Inc. is a registered American 501(c)3 non-profit organization (EIN 27-0612848) established to formally respond to requests for technical assistance in developing countries. Our mission is to work with the most vulnerable communities, especially in rural areas, to help them meet their educational, social, economic needs. We cooperate with communities to identify, develop, implement and manage projects in areas that:
- Improve the quality of life, including health, social, economic and education, in communities, especially rural communities;
- Meet needs of the most vulnerable people, including orphans and vulnerable children;
- Bring about behavior modification in youth and encourage activities that promote good morals and citizenship; and
- Empower communities to determine their own future by building their capacity to set social, economic and education development goals; to develop and implement programs; to monitor and evaluate projects; and to be accountable for decisions affecting their communities so they become self-reliant.