All 30 children from the initial ‘proof of concept’ pilot project (2006) were students who had failed the Grade 3 Primary School Test and exhibited severe disruptive disorders. They all went on to pass the Grade Six Achievement Test 36 months later, and have now entered accredited High Schools in Jamaica.
This intervention group made significant improvements in school social and behavior adjustment, as measured by the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (Teacher Report Form) (ASEBA TRF), with particularly successful outcomes for behavioral gains among boys.
Significant academic improvements were made in overall average language arts (p = 0.0028), science (p < 0.001), mathematics (p < 0.001), and social studies (p = 0.0018) scores across the four assessments during the period of study. The intervention group also made significant improvements in artistic, musical and dramatic performance, resulting in measurable artistic performances by the group during the study period.2
In July 2013, the project was successfully scaled up into four primary schools in inner-city Kingston. This venture involved two teachers, four cultural therapists and a community mental health nurse practitioner in each of the four schools. The ‘Scale-Up’ DAW activity performed baseline psychological assessments; including ASEBA evaluations for 100 DAW participants and 100 control students.
Each child involved in the three-week summer ‘Scale-Up’ produced artistic creations such as paintings, papier-mache masks and costumes. Each participating school also produced a ten minute drama reflecting original music, songs and performances from all DAW students. These productions mirrored the thematic concept of a Dream-A-World activity in which students are asked to imagine a new planet, reflecting particularly on which aspects of life they wished to keep and which they wished to discard.
Some of the projects key outcomes are:
- Fostering creative and visionary leadership in resource challenged, overcrowded inner-city primary schools
- Transforming disruptive, fractious and under-performing eight-year-old children in the remarkably short period of three weeks, and sustaining this behavioral improvement for the ensuing three years
- Triggering improvements in academic achievement – mathematics and reading – in three weeks and sustaining this improvement over three years
- Catalyzing teacher task-sharing and task-shifting skills in the management of mental disorders in the children in their schools
- Practical demonstrations to primary school teachers of this method of producing and sustaining significant academic achievement in the children in their schools
- Significantly increasing parental engagement in the development of their children
- Providing continuity and support to consolidate social skill development