Vulnerable children get no vacation this August

Vulnerable children get no vacation this August

Last academic year, 2,024 children had a guaranteed meal in their school cafeteria thanks to funding from Probitas Foundation through the RAI -Cafeteria Aid programme. What happens to these children during vacation?

School vacation and preventing child malnutrition in Catalonia

Social-educational activities as part of free-time activities during the school vacation months play a key role in preventing child malnutrition. Just like the school cafeteria, they guarantee that the most vulnerable children have at least one nutritious meal per day.

To alleviate the consequences of the imbalances caused by the new economic status of Catalan families, numerous organisations have begun to stress the need to cover this gap during vacations, which can also cause a food imbalance which, in the case of children in situations of extreme vulnerability, can be severe.

This shortfall and the difficulties of gaining access to certain unsubsidised free-time activities have become even more pronounced with the economic crisis. For that reason the Probitas Foundation is working in conjunction with other organisations to strive to raise the public administrations' awareness of this problem. As recommended in the Report on the Right to Educational Free-Time and School Camps issued by the Ombudsman (June 2014), "the public administrations must keep up their efforts when fully assuring children's equal opportunities  to access and make use of free-time educational activities and prevent the current process of public divestment from harming equal opportunities in this field, in accordance with the principle of the budgetary priority of children as stipulated in article 15.1 of Law 14/2010, dated 27 May 2010, on the rights and opportunities of children and adolescents."

A guaranteed meal, in the summer, too

Preventing malnutrition is one of the goals of the Probitas Foundation's Child Meal Reinforcement (RAI) programme. For two years, the Foundation has been funding access to summer camps during the months of July and August for children at the risk of suffering from malnutrition in the schools affiliated with the RAI-Cafeteria Aid programme. This programme is operating in 14 towns and has 120 participating school. Forty-one organisations are partnering in the project, and they are expected to provide aid for 1,606 children in the forthcoming financial year.

Likewise, with the support of the Social Services of the town halls in 14 towns – such as Badalona, Barberà del Vallès, Montcada i Reixac, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Mollet, Canovelles, Granollers and Parets del Vallès – the Probitas Foundation has launched the RAI-Summer camps project, through which many of these children at the risk of social exclusion are currently attending a camp for the summer months, especially in August, the month with the fewest activities available. They enjoy the benefits of free-time activities while some of their most basic food needs are being met, as the camp includes several meals and food resources.

Partnerships with organisations

These social-educational activities also offer a protected place where at-risk children can socialise in an atmosphere far from the street or situations of family and social breakdown.

To manage some of these summer camps, the Probitas Foundation partners with small neighbourhood organisations such as El Club San Feliu, L'Esplai La Florida, Nou Quitxalles, REIR and La Vinya, along with larger organisations such as the Federació Catalana de l'Esplai, the Casal dels Infants, the Pere Tarrés Foundation and the Fundació per l'Esport i l'Educació de Barcelona (FEEB), an organisation which also strives to integrate the young adults from the neighbourhood into the project by training them to work as monitors for the children, with whom they connect more easily. As the director of the FEEB, Josep Lluís Velasco, states: "In this way the neighbourhood undergoes a slow, positive transformation. Young referents appear who are employed, study and serve as positive models of peaceful coexistence."