The project “Ways to Wellbeing” of the Expertise Center Education Care Saba (EC2) is among the 12 finalists for the ‘Appeltjes van Oranje’ (Orange Apples) awards of the Oranje Fonds. “We are so proud,” said EC2 Director Henriette “Jet” van Heijnsbergen.
During the online final day on Thursday, January 28, the nominees presented their initiatives to each other and to the jury. “Ways to Wellbeing” of EC2 and 11 other initiatives were selected as finalists. Besides Saba, one other Dutch Caribbean island is in the finals: the Equine Foundation from Curaçao. The other 10 initiatives are from the Netherlands. This year’s theme for the Appeltjes van Oranje is “Mental Power”.
In the PowerPoint presentation, EC2 Director Van Heijnsbergen and Youth Development Specialist/Psychologist Rayann Ramdin gave an explanation of the Ways to Wellbeing initiative. Ways of Wellbeing is a multi-faceted approach to nurture the mental wellness of vulnerable students facing challenges by developing four key dimensions of wellness: intellectual, emotional, social and physical.
EC2 started Ways to Wellbeing to help the special needs, vulnerable children cope with trauma after the big 2017 hurricanes, the current COVID-19 pandemic, and challenges with isolation, stress within their family, bullying, unaddressed learning issues, and family displacement.
Special attention was given to the well-being of Saba’s vulnerable children. “Without wellbeing, there is no learning. Children need to feel safe and secure first before they can learn,” said Van Heijnsbergen.
The eight members of the EC2 team took part in multiple pieces of training and courses, mainly during the times of lockdown in the first half of last year. “We decided to make good use of that time to get additional schooling so we could even better assist our clients after the lockdown,” said Van Heijnsbergen. During the pandemic, EC2 has been providing online support for both the students and parents.
The EC2 team uses positive ways only, teaching the students how to cope with stress, anxiety, and bullying through visual art, music, and psycho-motor exercises. “Mental wellbeing is a taboo for some, but we consider recognizing that you need to support strength. There’s no taboo at EC2,” added Van Heijnsbergen.
“There are 12 finalists, but everyone is a winner. All projects have done a fantastic job,” said Oranjefonds Director Sandra Jetten. All 48 initiatives that took part in the online finals were surprised with a cheque for 1,500 euro.
In April, the board of the Oranjefonds will select three winners from the 12 finalists. The winners receive a small bronze sculpture, created by Princess Beatrix, and an amount of 15,000 euro, during a ceremony in June, in the presence of Queen Máxima.