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Xi'an China Granny photo's from orphanage | by AndrewEick
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Xi'an China Granny photo's from orphanage

*A Joyful Visit with the Grannies*

 

*and Children in Xi'an*

 

by Rita Taddonio, Director of Spence-Chapin's Adoption Resource Center

 

For the past five years, Spence-Chapin has been sponsoring a granny program

at the Child Welfare Institute in Xi'an, China. I have visited four times to

offer trainings to the grannies that would enable them to help with the

children's development. This summer I returned with Susan Campbell, an

occupational therapist and Joan Radigan, a special educator. I was extremely

excited because one of our goals was to support an additional granny program

for children between the ages of three and five.

 

It was a joy to return to Xi'an and see the children sitting on their

grannies laps to hear a story read or grabbing their grannies' hand to pull

them to see the new toys we brought. The obvious signs of attachment the

children have with the grannies and the sense of comfort they derive from

their presence makes me aware of the meaning and power of this program. It

is particularly moving because I am conscious that most of these children

will remain at the orphanage and so having an adult who lights up when they

come into the room or is completely interested in their painting is most

important.

 

The success of the first granny program for infants to age three is the

reason we were determined to extend the granny program to cover children who

are between the ages of three to five. Continuity in care and attention is

so important that it was clearly the right thing to do. We found children we

recognized as having been in our Birth to Three Program now happily playing

with grannies hired for the new program.

 

Our visit in July 2006 lasted two weeks. The first week we spent training

the grannies and staff in the Birth to Three Program. Eleven out of fifteen

grannies were new to the program so we reviewed basic developmental stages,

how to encourage age appropriate skills and basics about how attachment

forms

 

The second week we focused on training the grannies and staff who work with

the three to five year olds. Again, we reviewed basic child development, how

to encourage creative play, interaction between the children, language and

other age appropriate skills. Every time we passed the children's room, they

started clapping and waving because the activities we did with them were so

much fun.

 

When we asked the grannies to evaluate the training, their responses were

very positive. One granny said, "I am so happy that I know how to help my

baby. Before all I could do was hold her because I thought she could not

move on her own but now I am able to get her to crawl to me." The grannies

were particularly interested in how to stimulate infants and how to help

special needs children.

 

I had the opportunity to meet with government officials, notably the head of

Child Welfare for Shaanxi Province. He was very impressed with our program

and asked that Spence-Chapin consider opening more granny programs in his

province. When I asked how many he thought were needed he said he thought

every orphanage in his province should have a program such as ours. That was

quite a compliment and offer of support especially since it came from a

government official. He suggested that I visit a more remote orphanage to

see the kind of need he was describing. So I took myself to AnKam— a days

train ride followed by a long car ride—to see the orphanage.

 

I found AnKam to be a fairly typical rural orphanage, situated in a new

building which provides light and space for the children. However, there

were only two caretakers for 38 children and no developmental toys or

activities in their daily routine. A perfect place for us to consider

establishing a granny program..

 

Returning every year to China to support and train and grow the Granny

Program has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. A

personal thank you to everyone who has enabled Spence Chapin to make such a

profound difference in the lives of children.

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Uploaded on January 28, 2007