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Living Values Activities for Street Children
Unfolding the Potential of Street Children

A resource to develop values, protective social skills and receptivity to education. For more information, contact your country’s Focal Point for LVE or ALIVE Associate listed on the Contact Us Page, or e-mail


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The Need
Thailand children A tragic consequence of today's world is the rapidly growing number of street children. The United Nations estimates the population of street children worldwide at 150 million. These children are sometimes abandoned; they are also AIDS orphans or offspring of impoverished parents who have them live and work in the streets. As the AIDS pandemic grows, children are on the street at an increasingly younger age.

Special need of education. These most underserved and vulnerable children would benefit immensely by attainment of the educational targets set forth by states in Education for All. Education is a fundamental human right that allows all children to develop toward their potential. A lack of education has dire consequences for the child and negative consequences for the society as a whole. In healthy family relationships, children acquire healthy intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. Street children often develop behaviors that interfere not only with their own intrapersonal and interpersonal well-being, but also negatively affect later adaptation and contribution to a healthy, productive society. They learn behaviors on the streets that inflict damage on the self; the likelihood of treating others the same way is increased. These children have many needs and offer special challenges. Some of these can be addressed through education with a values-based educational approach.

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LVASC Materials and Training
Psychologist Diane Tillmanin group of street children
Participants engage in a conflict
resolution role-play during an LVASC
Training in Indonesia, November 2002.
Three Living Values Activities for Street Children (LVASC) books were created in 2002 and 2003, for children ages 3 to 6, 7 to 10 and 11 to 14, as part of Living Values Education Program. These materials are offered with the aim of providing street children with care, an opportunity to build a relationship of trust with a nurturing adult, and protective social skills to help them be safe on the streets. The activities give children tools to release and deal with some of their pain while developing positive adaptive and protective social and emotional skills. The program also builds social and attitudinal skills to increase their chance for success if provided the opportunity to learn in other educational settings. Suggestions are included for community involvement, general education, vocational training and further values education. Suggestions for cooperation between agencies using LVASC are made for areas where sex trafficking is prevalent. Our hope is to create a world of care and education in which these most vulnerable children can develop their potential.

The first LVASC Training for street educators and agencies caring for street children took place in Vietnam in October 2002. This was followed by a training in Indonesia in November 2002. In 2003, LVASC Trainings with simultaneous Train-the-Trainer sessions took place in South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Turkey. In April of 2004, Living Values Education and UNESCO BRINDA co-sponsored an LVASC training in Senegal.

The LVASC lessons are sometimes offered by street educators on the streets, but more often in community centers, shelters, and street-children schools or facilities. Initial feedback is encouraging.

The LVASC lessons are sometimes offered by street educators on the streets, but more often in community centers, shelters, and street-children schools or facilities. Initial feedback is encouraging.

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A Description of LVASC Ages 3 to 6 Materials
Living Values Activities for Street Children Ages 3-6 contains 70 lessons. Some of the lessons are adapted from the values units of peace, respect, love and cooperation in Living Values Activities for Children Ages 3-7. These activities develop the children's positive feelings, ideas, and experiences of the values as well as build personal social and emotional skills, problem-solving skills, and conflict resolution skills. The values-based activities incorporate a variety of ways to explore values. Sharing, thinking, creating, and learning cooperative social skills are combined with playing, art, singing, dancing, and imagining exercises.

Story of Fred and Katie
Fred and Katie began walking
toward the big tree in the alley.
Fred held Katie's hand.
Illustration by Joanne Corcoran

In addition, there is a series of 30 stories about a street-children family. The Street-Children Family stories relate the tale of two children, Fred and Katie, who initially live on a farm with their parents. The father and mother serve as voices to value children, and the mother's voice continues as a nurturing force even after Fred and Katie lose both parents and live on the streets. Fred and Katie are befriended by a slightly older boy, Mohammed, and together they become a street-children family. (Note: Translators are asked to substitute names used in their country for the characters in the stories.)

The stories serve as a medium to educate about and discuss issues related to domestic violence, death, AIDS, drug sellers, drugs, sexual abuse and physical abuse. The issues of poverty, lack of food, being scared when adults argue, safety, caring for ill parents, sex, being scared at night, the effects of drugs, begging, wanting to learn and hitting siblings are also addressed. The stories offer healthy perspectives. For example, children are told that they are naturally lovable and valuable, that it is never their fault when adults argue and that it is wrong for adults to hurt children. The stories introduce ways of thinking and positive methods of coping. For example, the mother helps Fred and Katie deal with the father?s death by teaching them to send love; both Mama and Mohammed help Fred learn to be safer and help him learn the importance of keeping Katie safe from unsafe men.

The stories are combined with discussions in which parallels are drawn from the stories to the possible realities the children may encounter. The discussions allow the children to talk about their feelings and experiences in a supportive environment. Their feelings in response to difficult and painful events are accepted as normal reactions. Some of the follow-up activities allow the children the opportunity to express their feelings artistically. Some activities give them the opportunity to develop a voice against violence while others help them develop positive adaptive social and emotional skills.

Three puppets join the teacher for these lessons. At the beginning of every safe and caring lesson, Rocco, the raccoon, teaches hygiene and Miss Dragon teaches manners. Miss Dragon helps the children build a Peace Tent. The Peace Star puppet leads the children in filling themselves with peace, respect and love.

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A Description of LVASC Ages 7 to 10 Materials
Living Values Activities for Street Children Ages 7 to 10 contains 77 lessons. Some of the lessons are adapted from the values units of peace, respect, love and cooperation in Living Values Activities for Children Ages 3-7 and Living Values Activities for Children Ages 8-14. These activities develop the children?s positive feelings, ideas, and experiences of the values as well as build personal social and emotional skills, problem solving skills, and conflict resolution skills. The values-based activities incorporate a variety of ways to explore values. Sharing, thinking, creating, and learning cooperative social skills are combined with playing, art, singing, dancing, and imagining exercises.

A Child
And then, continued Mama,
when you want to get out of the ball
you can't, because your body
and mind only want the drug.

In addition, there is a series of 32 stories about a street-children family. The Street-Children Family stories relate the tale of three children, Nelson, Marian and Joe, who initially live with their parents. The father and mother serve as voices to value children, and the mother's sister, Aunt Lonnie, continues as a nurturing force after both parents die. Nelson, Marian and Joe become a street-children family who are befriended by Fred and Mohammed, other street children who live in an alley by a big tree. Fred and Mohammed are characters from the Fred and Katie Series of Street-Children Family Stories for children three- to six-years old. Celia and her little brother, Sammy, later become part of this family.

The stories serve as a medium to educate about and to discuss issues related to domestic violence, death, AIDS, drug sellers, drugs, sexual abuse, physical abuse, eating in a healthy way and cleanliness. The issues of poverty, lack of food, being scared when adults argue, safety, sex, being scared at night, the effects of drugs, begging, stealing, wanting to learn, and hitting and caring for siblings are also addressed.

The stories offer healthy perspectives. For example, children are told that they are naturally lovable and valuable and that it is wrong for adults to hurt children. The stories introduce ways of thinking and positive methods of coping. For example, Mama helps Nelson and Marian deal with the father's death by teaching them to send love; Aunt Lonnie, Fred and Mohammed help them learn the importance of staying away from unsafe men; and Fred shares how he learned to play and explain things to his little sister. The children create strategies to help them be safe from drug sellers. Issues of grief, illness, and sexual abuse again arise as Celia joins the family.

The stories are combined with discussions in which parallels are drawn from the stories to the possible realities the children may encounter. The discussions allow the children to talk about their feelings and experiences in a supportive environment. Their feelings in response to difficult and painful events are accepted as normal reactions. Some of the follow-up activities allow the children the opportunity to express their feelings artistically. Some activities give them the opportunity to develop a voice against violence while others help them develop protective social skills and positive adaptive social and emotional skills. The local street educators help the children develop strategies that are effective and safe in their community.

Two puppets join the teacher for these lessons. The children help create a Peace Tent in class and fill themselves with peace, respect and love.

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A Description of LVASC Ages 11 to 14 Materials
Living Values Activities for Street Children Ages 11-14 contains 80 lessons. Some of the lessons are adapted from the values units of peace, respect, love, cooperation and honesty in Living Values Activities for Children Ages 3?7 and Living Values Activities for Children Ages 8-14. These activities develop the children-s positive feelings, ideas, and experiences of the values as well as build personal social and emotional skills, cognitive understanding of the effects of values and anti-values, problem-solving skills and conflict-resolution skills. The values-based activities incorporate a variety of ways to explore values. Sharing, thinking, creating, mind mapping and learning cooperative social skills are combined with playing, art, singing, dancing, dramas and imagining exercises.

In addition, there is a series of 35 stories about a street-children family. The Street-Children Family Stories for children 11 to 14 years old bring into life the same cast of characters from the previous stories. The children are older and deal with problems many street children their age encounter. Fred, Mohammed, Nelson, Marion and Joe continue to live on the streets while Celia and Sammy live in a street-children home. In the stories, these characters remember scenes from their past in order to introduce nurturing adults who value children and offer healthy perspectives. Tony and Keeman emerge as characters to illustrate the effects of eating rotten food, how to treat diarrhea, cycles of violence, and alternative ways to deal with difficult situations with non-violence. Alisha becomes part of the group as the street-children family goes to a street-children school and puts on a drama about AIDS for the community. When she is entrapped in a brothel, the street children family become involved. That is an opportunity to develop empathy for entrapped youngsters, become more aware of the tricks of predators, to learn about the rights of children, and to explore the effects of honesty and corruption and the factors that contribute to that.

The stories serve as a medium to educate about and discuss issues related to domestic violence, death, HIV/AIDS, drugs, drug sellers, female and male maturation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking, labor trafficking, corruption, caring for younger siblings, eating in a healthy way and hygiene. The issues of being scared at night, the effects of drugs, poverty, begging, stealing, the risk of dying quickly from diarrhea, being scared when adults argue, being safe from unsafe adults, non-violence, the right to education, child rights, making a difference and wanting to learn are also addressed.

The stories introduce ways of thinking and positive methods of coping. They are combined with discussions in which parallels are drawn from the stories to the possible realities the children may encounter. The discussions allow the children to talk about their feelings and experiences in a supportive environment. Their feelings in response to difficult and painful events are accepted as normal reactions. Some of the follow-up activities allow the children the opportunity to express their feelings artistically. Some activities give them the opportunity to develop a voice against violence while others help them develop protective social skills and positive adaptive social and emotional skills. Creating dramas to educate the wider community about HIV/AIDS and trafficking of children is encouraged ? to empower the children, to engage the wider community in an activity in which they benefit from the street children, and to raise the awareness level in the community of other children and adults so that the percentage of people being harmed by HIV/AIDS and child trafficking reduces.

LVASC 11 to 14 materials suggest a wider level of community involvement than the earlier age levels. It is important for the community perception of street children to change. In addition to contributing through educational dramas, students could contribute to the street children agency and the neighborhood or area in which it is located. One possibility is to be involved in learning about the environment and developing vocational skills. Businesses in the community could help by providing knowledge or materials. It is important to provide vocational workshops on skills and trades needed locally. It is our hope that once the community is benefiting from street children, adults and businesspersons in the community will offer classes, expertise and opportunities. And, youth will develop skills that enable them to get off the streets, should they choose to do so.

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A Multifaceted Approach
The approach taken in LVEP's Living Values Activities for Street Children is multifaceted. In the process described below, specifically for LVASC 11 to14, each process continues as the next begins.

VASC Process

Process 1: Build a feeling of safety, trust and well-being through values-based relationships and psychosocial elements.

Process 2: Build personal resources intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.

Process 3: Begin the healing process in relation to negative life experiences.

Process 4: Develop protective social skills.

Process 5: Learn about human rights and the workings of the real world; begin to contribute to the community.

Process 6: Develop skills in relationship to the real world; interact beneficially with the environment and learn vocational skills

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A Safe Values-based Atmosphere
Many street children have suffered the loss of parents, come from abusive homes and/or undergone multiple traumas while on the street. The establishment of a safe and caring environment and relationships of trust are especially important for children who have experienced trauma. This environment is crucial if they are to learn all they can, be comfortable in expressing themselves and begin to heal and grow in a healthy direction. Children function at their best in a nurturing environment of respect, caring, understanding, patience, and clear rules rather than of blame, shame, and anger. The opportunity for them to share their thoughts and feelings in a respectful, safe atmosphere and be acknowledged is invaluable. Their vocabulary, ability to think constructively, and critical thinking skills will develop along with their emotional growth, relationships of trust and self-esteem. For these reasons, training prior to the use of the LVASC materials is required.

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Psychosocial and Protective Elements

Psychosocial elements in the program are designed to increase mental and emotional well-being as well as foster well-being in relationships with others. Children have the opportunity to express their feelings about death, violence and abuse, and a multitude of other issues through drawings, mime and words. Their feelings are accepted as normal reactions to horrible events. Students are not made to participate, but can express what they wish. A sense of well-being is also nurtured through establishing a routine, being listened to, interaction with the puppets, playing and singing.

Children need to make sense of their own experience; this is vital in increasing the sense of well-being. Understanding is developed in several ways: young children are offered a simple explanation of why adults sell drugs to children or sexually abuse children. When the topic of people who have died arises in a lesson, it is suggested that the teacher, or someone knowledgeable about the students' religion(s), explain death in terms appropriate for their age.

LVASC also contains several methods to increase the "protective factors" associated with resilience. These are important in increasing a child's ability to cope and hence facilitate recovery from traumatic experiences (Tolfree, 1996). A key element is building good, emotionally supportive relationships with teachers. Teacher training is a critical factor to successfully implement LVASC.

LVASC does provide another protective factor, "an educational climate which is emotionally positive, open, guiding and norm-oriented." Living values activities are participatory and child-centered. The values-based atmosphere is positive, open, supportive, and nurturing. The teachers are taught how to establish clear norms collaboratively with the students and help them apply skills to new concerns and conflicts.

It is intended that teachers from the culture of the students do these activities with the street children. This provides several positive factors and safeguards when the teachers have been through an LVASC training. One, the manner in which the program is carried out will naturally be more within the interpersonal norms of the culture. Two, local teachers will be aware of the dangers the children face, the methods usually used to trick them, and local resources. Three, teachers will be familiar with cultural traditions, songs, games, and dances, and will be able to add those traditions to the program. Four, ongoing relationships with supportive teachers will increase the trust and resilience of students.

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LVASC Training
It is essential for educators to participate in LVEP's LVASC Educator Training prior to doing this program with street children. While many of the LVASC activities teach simple lessons about values, hygiene and protective social skills, this is also a program that can touch deep emotions as it deals with death, feelings about parents, and abuse. Training in active listening and creating a values-based atmosphere is important; when children are opening up it is essential to accept and honor their emotions. The LVASC lessons contain many healing activities. The program design includes a careful sequencing of emotional issues and discussion questions. More difficult issues are approached gradually with the belief that educators can implement methods that honor emotions. Children begin to open up once a trusting relationship is formed. Creating a space in which there can be the deepening of trust is essential to the healing process. LVEP offers training to agencies caring for street children and those who wish to become trainers for this program.

LVASC Training begins with a welcome, the purposes of the program, and introductory activities. Teachers are asked about their concerns and special circumstances. Teachers then participate in values awareness sessions. They are asked to reflect on their own values, share those in small groups, and offer their ideas on elements within a values-based atmosphere. Sessions on active listening take place early in the training, and continue almost every day. This is a fundamental skill in order to carry out the LVASC activities most beneficially.

There is a session on imagining an optimal educational environment. The educators discuss the teaching methods and attitudes that create an optimal environment. While the educators benefit from these activities, and explore what intra- and interpersonal elements are important in the learning process, the trainers are listening carefully for cultural norms, common teaching methods, and areas in which educators would like to learn more.

Educators are then engaged in several activities that are both in the LVASC materials and the regular LVEP values activities for children. LVEP's theoretical model and the rationale behind the variety of values activities are presented. The goals of the LVASC program are read together. Teachers have the opportunity to question and discuss any aspects they wish.

Educators are engaged in the activities in small groups. They participate in some of the activities, are told about others, and teach the activities by the end of the training. It is important for the educators to go through some of the lessons to understand how the process works, not just intellectually but emotionally. The activities themselves are designed with supportive elements, and participants engage in expressive activities through drawing, puppets, sharing, quietly being exercises, and traditional songs.

The training provides additional sessions to develop skills for creating a values-based environment. This includes acknowledgement, encouragement, and positively building behaviors, active listening, conflict resolution, collaborative rule making, and values-based discipline.
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LVASC Training with a Simultaneous TTT
The LVASC training is six days for Street Educators or other educators who wish to use the LVASC materials with street children. Those who wish to be LVASC Trainers receive an additional two days of training, and are asked to help while attending another LVASC Training.

Training is offered to agencies that care for street children and other educational organizations involved in educating street children, either in formal or non-formal settings. Each agency or organization that sends educators must commit to teaching at least three LVASC lessons a week to street children. This will allow, for example, children from 7 to 10 years of age to complete all 77 LVASC lessons in six months. The LVASC lessons are considered of utmost importance as street children are in dire need of protective social skills. The agency or organization must also commit to allowing only educators who have been trained to teach the LVASC lessons.

It is recommended that each agency involved send several street educators/educators who actively work with street children as well as two people who have the educational qualifications and facilitation skills to be LVASC Trainers. It is suggested that potential trainers be psychologists, social workers, or educators with a background in psychology. Excellent group process skills are important. After these educators attend their second LVASC Training, they may participate in small group sessions as co-trainers.

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