International (MNN) — Babies are displaying greater muscle strength, motor skills, and coordination since the implementation of a new exercise regimen.
A program began in 2003 by the partnership of Compassion International with BabyBuilders' curriculum. The curriculum is aimed at increasing strength in the babies' necks, shoulders, and stomachs. The regimen is now being used in more than 30 Compassion Child Survival Programs throughout Kenya, India and the Philippines. "BabyBuilders developed their curriculum internationally, so it is culturally appropriate," said Gregg Keen of Compassion.
"One of the big issues in our child survival program is the mortality rate. We select children and their mothers who are at the most risk in their community. Those mothers would not necessarily have the skills for stimulating their children to holistic development–social, emotional, or physical," said Keen.
Compassion values partnerships that utilize the skills of other organizations or programs. "We could build these things ourselves, but we would much prefer working with other ministries that have given something a very specific focus," Keen said. Compassion's Child Survival program targets children from birth to between three and four years of age.
"Certainly moms are coming to know the Lord through the ministry. Certainly children are developing. A key issue for us is that we're trying to reach children who very likely would not survive to their fifth birthday in the absence of this program," said Keen. Children have even been surprising their mothers by speaking earlier than expected; their cognitive skills are being honed in ways Kenyan women are not use to.
Local church leaders in each community identify mothers and children who need this program most. "We have seen tremendous impact on the lives of mothers both in knowing how to care for their children and also in their own spiritual development," said Keen. "Having a child in the program with Compassion where the mother has become a believer because of this certainly allows that child a better opportunity to understand the Gospel in their own home."
Compassion hopes that as these children in the program grow older, they will be able to benefit from other aspects of Compassion's ministries.