Worldwide Orphans Bulgaria (WWO Bulgaria) was registered in Bulgaria in 2009 as part of the US-based Worldwide Orphans Foundation and works to promote early childhood development and learning through play.
WWO Bulgaria transforms the lives of vulnerable children, families, and communities through evidence-based, trauma-informed programming. We work to address the unique needs and strengths of children, families, and communities in each location adapting our early education and skills development programs to meet their identified needs. This increases their confidence, self-esteem, and sense of belonging, develops skills, and provides opportunities for youth and adults to conduct structured play.
· WWO is a capacity-building organization aimed at supporting small organizations working with vulnerable local communities to provide the Element of Play® program.;
· This is a cost-effective and sustainable model of working to reach as many children and families as possible with direct services, while in the meantime developing small organizations.;
· This is also a good way to promote the Element of Play® program and make it recognizable and preferred by children and professionals.;
· WWO Bulgaria works in 33 locations through 26 partner organizations from all over the country – NGOs, kindergartens, schools, hospitals, municipal administrations, social institutions for children (homes for medical and social care for children, family-type accommodation centers for children with disabilities), community centers (very often these are the only structures in remote settlements without early childhood development services);
· Through its partners, WWO Bulgaria reaches various vulnerable children: children living in poverty, children from ethnic minorities, mostly Roma (from remote and separated regions), children from refugee families, children with disabilities, children in hospital care;
In 2019, WWO Bulgaria reached more than 1,800 families in 33 locations providing services in Bulgaria through the following activities:
· ELEMENT OF PLAY®
Element of Play® is WWO’s trademarked program developed to support early childhood development, bring about psychosocial change and rehabilitate communities in areas of extreme poverty and disaster. Adverse childhood experiences cause trauma in children which often causes them to miss critical developmental milestones and creates lasting negative consequences in their lives. These developmental delays produce a cumulative effect on their communities.
What differentiates Element of Play® is our theory of change. True change happens when a community works together to care for one another. The key to this program’s success comes from our foundational premise – children thrive when the adults around them engage in the play, too. Element of Play® Learning Spaces bring trauma-informed, play-based programs to young children in preschools, community centers and hospitals.
WWO’s Element of Play® program goals include:
A strengthened relationship between adults and children
Improved developmental outcomes for children
Improved psychosocial wellbeing for both children and adults
The program is a tool for strengthening the child-family-community relationship with the support of partner organizations.
The role of WWO Bulgaria is to develop the Element of Play® program so that it meets the unique needs of each community in which it operates and thus provides universal and at the same time targeted services.
· Training for parents
· Training for professionals
· Monitoring and evaluation
Our innovative program removes stigma and builds critical life skills in children from marginalized communities so that they thrive. When children learn to overcome obstacles, they make tremendous progress in becoming strong and successful adults.
Between 2004 and 2009, WWO Bulgaria worked on an early intervention program “Granny and Grandchild” in partnership with the adoption organization “Milosardie” in 9 institutions for children – in Vratsa, Pleven, Targovishte, Ruse, Shumen, Yambol, Debelets, and the pre-school homes for children in Pleven and Ruse.