|   Posted: September 01, 2019

How do you make "early childhood development" exciting? A team in Compassion Bolivia turns crawling and coloring into a talent showcase!

Gold Medal in Development

How do you make "early childhood development" exciting? A team in Compassion Bolivia turns crawling and coloring into a talent showcase!

A young girl in Bolivia paints with her fingers

In Compassion Bolivia there are nearly 15,000 registered children ages 5 and under! That’s 15,000 little minds and bodies in a critical stage of development that has the potential to affect the rest of their lives.

“Early childhood stimulation is important for a child’s proper growth and development,” says Elizabeth Gabriel, who works with toddlers in Compassion’s program as a Survival Specialist. “It benefits their gross and fine motor skills, cognition, socio-affective, physical, spiritual and language development. The stimulus and experiences they receive will allow them to grow and mature, and it will be a base for future learnings.”

That’s why staff at dozens of Compassion centers decided to collaborate to make early childhood development into something everyone, even parents, would want to participate in.

But how do you make building with blocks and coloring exciting? You turn it into a contest — where everyone’s a winner!

A boy paints
A girl holds a toy

Once a month, toddlers in centers throughout Bolivia gather, along with their caregivers, for an interactive toddler competition. The competition is divided into several categories focusing on key areas of development:

  • Babies from 8 to 12 months old were in the crawling competition with their mothers cheering from the sidelines. The winners, of course, were any babies who made their way to the finish line!
  • Next up were the 2-year-olds, who stacked a pile of sponge bricks. They concentrated hard to line them up by number and carefully construct towers.
  • The 3-year-olds had the meticulous job of skewering noodles on pieces of yarn. Each one to finish the task was met with cheers and smiles.
  • The 4-year-olds tackled creating finger-painting masterpieces. The name of the game was technique, style and imagination.
  • Finally, the 5-year-olds showed off their physical skills. Each one started with jumping jacks, moved on to a somersault, then crawled through a tunnel, ran through set of cones and finally finished with a sprint back to their cheering parents.

It was a day of growth and development — disguised by a lot of fun! And nobody was happier at the end of the day than the staff, who work hard to make sure each child in their care is learning and growing and developing the skills to escape poverty one day.

“Working with parents and children in early stimulation establishes good foundations in the child’s development,” says Elizabeth. “It helps them to start well and to have good outcomes.”

It's because of sponsors and partners like you that staff like Elizabeth are able to create fun, educational events like this one. You can help our church partners as they support moms and babies through our Survival Program!