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SWO Programs for Kids in  Underprivileged Neighborhoods
People

SWO Programs for Kids in Underprivileged Neighborhoods

The State Welfare Organization will launch a ‘children and families’ center and open two kindergartens in the poor Harandi neighborhood in Tehran Municipal District 12, by the end of the current year (March 20) as part of measures to uplift the morale of residents, said Habibollah Masoudi Farid, deputy for social affairs at the SWO.
Emphasizing the need for development of municipal services in the capital’s socially-disadvantaged areas, he said “All organizations should pay special attention to areas where living standards are below acceptable norms.”
“As an example, the Education Ministry which is implementing the free milk distribution scheme for school children should give priority to schools in the disadvantaged neighborhoods like Harandi before extending it to other areas.”
In rich neighborhoods, people’s awareness on issues like the importance of milk in children’s diets should be stressed, as parents can afford to give their children the necessary diets for their healthy growth. “The rich are not in need of our doles…it is the poor who need assistance,” he said, ISNA reported.
The funds for opening the two kindergartens has been provided and they are obliged to provide one hot meal per day to the children and ensure that they receive their daily nutrition needs.
Referring to the center for children and families, he said it will be launched in collaboration with NGOs.
Harandi (earlier known as Darvazeh Ghar), has a large number of street children, urban homeless and junkies. A big park in the neighborhood has become a regular hangout for men and women who openly use drugs in public, including syringes; the sale of drugs is pretty visible.

  Keeping Them Engaged
“Going out in the neighborhood or playing in the park is dangerous for children given the present situation,” Masoudi Farid said.
Some parents have to go to work in the daytime, and due to the lack of safety in the neighborhood, have to lock up their children at home; therefore under such circumstances a center where children’s security can be ensured will help address some of the problems and concerns of  the residents.  
The center will provide educational services to children between the ages 3-14, but its main role is to protect them from harm’s way by keeping them engaged and entertained with a variety of activities like reading, playing games, etc.
The measure should partly prevent the negative effects on children of growing up in underprivileged neighborhoods.
So far, several studies have suggested that residing in disadvantaged neighborhoods is likely to have a negative effect on the cognitive development of children many years or even generations later; therefore specific and timely interventions are needed to improve communities that have been neglected socially for long periods.  
Similar centers will be launched in four other provinces on a pilot basis for one year. More will be launched gradually in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in cities across the country if the pilot schemes produce results.
Funding for the pilot projects has been allocated to the provincial SWO departments.
Each center has the capacity to accommodate 40 children, the official said. “Currently, some NGOs are also providing similar services to children in poor neighborhoods in Tehran.”

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