Fundacion Jefferson Perez

14 Jan

Jefferson Perez is an Ecuadorian Olympic speedwalker who has earned silver and gold medals. He started an after school programming the same name, for children. The mission of the program is to promote education, health, and nutrition for children, but it encompasses so much more.

There are 550 children served by this program in Cuenca. Many of these children attend school and work in the market with their mothers, selling produce or handmade artistry. These children work to help the family but also because there is a lack of affordable daycare. They also earn money to pay for their school uniforms, and this agency also provides $15 vouchers for this use. In the after school program, the children do recreational activities such as playing games, learning Japanese, and watching movies. Another goAl of the program is to eradicate child labor, and education is one step toward that goal.

Services are also provided to the parents. There are workshops provided that teach healthy cooking classes, self esteem, sexuality, and family planning. Basic computer skills are also taught, such as emailing and writing a resume. A certificate is provided at the end of the class so that they can get a job that uses these skills. Since many of the families work in the market, the psychologist from Fundacion Jefferson Perez travels to the market and conducts family therapy sessions in offices set aside for there at the market, so that the families will not lose money shutting down their booth and traveling to the center. Parents whose children participate in the program are also given the opportunity to receive $200 to expand their business to make money for the family.

Anti-bullying workshops are also offered through Fundacion Jefferson Perez. These are in response to racial and economic discrimination that these children have suffered at school and in the community.

We were impressed that a well funded agency allows for a more comprehensive approach to services for families both here and at home. The Fundacion Jefferson Perez after-school program provides services to empower children and families on several different levels. As social workers, we know that facilitating growth using an ecosystems framework is the most effective and empowering for the people who we serve.

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