HFH Update 2/2005
The Healthy Living Center
With support from the Toy Industry Foundation, Homes for the Homeless (HFH) launched the Healthy Living Center (HLC) expansion project in May 2003. Piloted in HFH's own transitional housing facilities in New York City for ten years, the HLC model has since been expanded to five different sites across the country. The curriculum, designed as sets of activity cards, attempts to promote positive youth development in a recreational setting for children in transition.
The Healthy Living Center is guided by three main objectives to foster homeless children's growth. First, the HLC exposes children to creative, social play, giving them a framework for positive socialization that can often be elusive for children in transition. High mobility and instability can leave children both without a consistent social group and feeling incomplete, as they are often unable to finish activities and projects they have started. Because each activity is self-contained, a child does not necessarily need prior knowledge or experience within the HLC framework in order to be an active participant on any particular day. The HLC also gives children the opportunity to develop their talents, skills, and creativity. Homeless children can often miss out on these opportunities, which may be deemed secondary to their other pressing needs, but are still so valuable in a child's development of a positive sense of self. Finally, the HLC provides a youth-centered framework for a child's self-development, both on an individual level and as part of a group. This framework gives children vital tools for long-term success, giving them practice in forming and maintaining positive social relationships and helping them to fully discover and take advantage of their own personal assets. All of these goals are accomplished by using a fun, youth-driven educational model allowing children to build confidence, explore their potential and enjoy time with their peers.
At the crux of the HLC model are the recreational activity sets, developed by Homes for the Homeless, that provide a framework for social play that promotes cognitive, social, and emotional growth for children aged 5 and up. The first activity set focuses on the theme of group development, covering subjects such as cooperation, community and self-esteem. Other activity sets currently in progress include music and health and wellness.
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