It’s been a few months since we last posted a blog, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy! Quite the opposite actually.
Last week saw the completion of the pilot phase of The Zuri Allstars sports project. In November and in collaboration with Opportunity Africa, we set up a youth football league in Kihembe, which brought together teams from 6 different villages, who played against each other during the school holidays. After each training session and match, the coaches delivered short workshops, educating the boys about things like the importance of hygiene, safe behaviours in relation to the transmission of HIV/AIDS, life skills and many other issues. It is our intention to run this project during each school holiday, and to increase the amount of teams involved each year.
After the final match last week, Herbert and I completed the first stage of our project evaluation. As an organisation, each project that we deliver is evaluated in relation to its impact on individual wellbeing, and we use NEF’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing as our method of measuring wellbeing. Simply, we believe that if we can co-design projects that support people to connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give, then we can incrementally support people to improve their wellbeing. In order to measure this, we have designed a simple questionnaire that asks five questions that relate to each area of NEF’s ways to wellbeing. We asked 40 boys from different teams to complete the questionnaire, and as a result of participating in The inaugural Zuri Allstars Project:
- 80% of the boys agreed or strongly agreed that they have connected with their friends, family and members of the local community
- 80% of the boys agreed or strongly agreed that they have been active and exercised regularly
- 84% of the boys agreed or strongly agreed that they have been more aware of their feelings and surroundings
- 80% of the boys agreed or strongly agreed that they have tried new things and learned new skills
- 82% of the boys agreed or strongly agreed that they gave given their time to help other people in their community
As this is our first project evaluation, we’re absolutely delighted with the impact that this project has had on the wellbeing of the boys, but we are still learning and will have to keep tweaking our processes. For the second part of our evaluation, I facilitated a Four Plus One evaluation, through which we brought together the key project stakeholders involved in the planning, delivery and monitoring of the project. The 4 + 1 tool is a very simple, empowering way of evaluating a project, ensuring that all people involved have the chance to offer their feedback across the following areas:
- What have we tried?
- What have we learned?
- What are we pleased about?
- What are we concerned about?
- What actions will we take in the future?
There were 5 people present at the evaluation (the coach, the head teacher from the school where the project was based, the project manager, the director of the partner NGO and the project administrator) and the process was fantastic. We started with an opening round, before spending about an hour going through the process, with everyone having the opportunity to offer their opinions and thoughts about the project. There were no interruptions, and each person gave considered and extremely insightful feedback. After a closing round, everyone involved said they were delighted to have had the chance to offer their feedback, and they all felt empowered and in control of the project. We also got some tangible, positive actions that will inform the project brief for the next sports project, to be delivered later in the year.
We are absolutely thrilled with the results from our first evaluation, and also with how well the process was received and how happy everyone was to participate. The project was by no means perfect, and there are many things that we need to improve on before delivering the next sports project in November, but that is why we conduct these evaluations, so we can learn from our mistakes and improve for next time. Over the next few months, I will be spending time in Kihembe, working with Opportunity Africa to evaluate the other pilot projects that we have supported over the past few months. We will be following the same two-part evaluation process, and will be supporting our partners to facilitate the evaluation process themselves. We see this as a vital step in living out our participatory values and ensuring that each project is successful.
Having recently celebrated our first birthday, we’re still a very young organisation and have lots to learn. We’re extremely passionate about what we do and we’re delighted that our projects are supporting people to improve their wellbeing, even in a small way as exemplified through this sports project. We’re always willing to try out new things and adapt our ideas, so please feel free to contribute any of your comments below.