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Zippy's Friends in Panama

The Zippy’s Friends programme in Panama has transcended school classrooms and has become a way to involve teachers, parents, families, whole schools and the community, with everyone cooperating to promote children’s emotional well-being.

Zippy’s Friends in Panama runs thanks to the combined efforts and support of Universidad Especializada de la Americas (UDELAS), FUNDAMÉRICAS, (the partner organisation for PfC), Banistmo S.A. (the bank sponsoring the programme) and the Panamanian Ministry of Education. These organizations work closely together to establish yearly goals for the programme, to make sure Zippy Friends can reach more children, teachers and schools each year.

From July 2010 to December 2017, Fundamericas has worked with approximately 30,630 registered children, 1,113 teachers and 321 educational centres.

What are the results and what has been key for the success?

The main result has been to achieve the objectives of the programme – to improve the emotional well-being of children participating in the programme. Beyond this, a surprising highlight has been the significant impact on the emotional well-being of teachers as they implement the principals of the programme. Fundamericas continually supports teachers with their own journey, helping them to discover ways to work on their own emotional health. “The program administrators use all possible technological media to keep in contact with the teachers (including WhatsApp, Facebook and email). Regardless of how far away they may be, teachers can always count on the support of Fundamericas… of course with a bit of help from technology too,” says Gloria de Gracia, Coordinator of the programme.

The model of administrative management combined with the financial resources management has been a success too. To run the programme each year, the administration goes through four phases: formulation (annual technical proposal to partner organizations), programming, monitoring and evaluation, which has resulted in a solid and professional methodology to run the programme effectively in Panama.

What do teachers say about the programme?

When being asked about their experience with the programme last year, teachers highlighted   six important aspects that facilitate the running of the programme in classes:

  • Zippy’s Friends is about the feelings and emotions of boys and girls equally, so it’s interesting for the whole class.
  • Any daily activity in the school can be used to promote the teachings and principals of the programme.
  • It does not depend on any academic level or academic abilities since it’s about social skills, and all children need (and can) work to improve their social skills.
  • It can be linked to any class and subject, relevant for everything the children do.
  • It supports reading, as children always want to participate and read the Zippy’s Friends stories.
  • It is an ideal way to start the day for the children.

[Source: Zippy Friends Experiences Systematization: Experiences, lessons and stories to tell in Panama 2017]

Gloria de Gracia, Zippy’s Friends Coordinator
23 April 2018