Belong, Grow, Serve.
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass
What are ‘Mango Tree Clubs’?
These clubs are our main, weekly programme for children and young people.’Mango Tree Clubs’ began here as a creative intervention into a social cycle that has been affecting the development and future of Jamaican children in inner city communities for decades.Children in these inner-city communities are growing up in a context with high unemployment, high instances of crime and violence, overcrowded and understaffed schools and family situations where only 13% of children are born to married parents. Most have lost a friend or family member to violence. Most grow up in homes which struggle to provide for them, and many suffer neglect.As children grow in such a context it becomes a cycle where neglect, poverty and violence reproduce themselves.‘Mango Tree’ Kids Clubs is one creative response to this challenge.
Who are these clubs for and how do they work?
Mango Tree Clubs run after school, and are for primary and high school aged children. The clubs foster personal growth through values education, character development and service projects. Clubs can play a significant role in the healthy development of children and youth.
The Mango Tree Clubs model works on 3 key principles: ‘Belong, Grow, and Serve’.
Belong: Belonging to a broader community where healthy connection can take place is important, especially in contexts where family units are not cohesive. If there are not positive communities for young people to belong to, the risk of falling into unhealthy communities (such as gangs or other unhelpful social groupings) is much higher.The strong healthy relationships that are experienced as part of belonging to a club can help children develop socially and emotionally, and lay the foundations for the second principle.
Grow: Mango Tree Clubs focus on the development of Biblical values in children because values will impact their character development, behaviour, relationships and life choices. This is closely linked with growth in life skills, so that the children are better prepared for responsible adulthood. In all the clubs, the culture is critical, and all the members know the ‘way things are done here’. Coaches are trained to be alert to the culture and to know how to foster and preserve critical values, even though most of the young people in the clubs come from challenging backgrounds where healthy values are rare.The core values of a Mango Tree club are: Respect, Stewardship, Cooperation and Self control. Each of these are developed deeply in many directions through the programme curriculum, relationships with the coaches, volunteers and peer leaders, and through the activities that the club members do together. Which leads to the third principle.
Serve: Service projects help the club members ‘walk the talk’ in their community, and the sense of achievement and positive contribution to others is a major contributor to positive growth in their self-esteem. The practicalities of doing service projects helps coaches to impart many of the life skills that we are trying to encourage the children to grow in. Another major benefit of service projects is that they lift the community that the young people belong to, and then the community’s appreciation reinforces the healthy growth in their young people, creating a positive social cycle.
As young people serve they develop and understanding that they are a part of a larger network of people and they can positively affect this network – in fact they are often the most effective agents of positive change.
Investing in Mango Tree Clubs:
People can invest in the Mango Tree Clubs model by:
Coaching – Coaches take on the primary responsibility for running a club, organising the life of the club, the team, activities, communication with the volunteers and partners etc. etc.
Volunteering – Volunteers assist at a club, looking after the children or young people who attend the club and helping to run the activities.
Partnering – Partners are linked to an individual club, and commit to praying for the members of the club they are partnering with and / or helping to raised funds for the club to run.
We are also seeking people to invest in the financial support of our coaches, either by committing to regular monthly giving to a particular coach, or by one time donations to help set up income generating enterprises whereby the coaches can work to support themselves.