Foundation New Life Program
In August of 2021, the Shanghai Dream Foundation started the New Life Program within the Henan public orphanage. This program was designed to help the most vulnerable orphan children by providing specialized feeding programs and therapy. At this time, there are 20 children under the care of the New Life Program, and we hope to expand this program to meet the needs of more children within the public orphanage in 2022.
Evidence Based Practice
Since the start of the program six months ago, the New Life Program has seen incredible results.
Each and every child within the program has some form of special needs and the majority have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. These children were chosen based on their lack of physical and cognitive development. In addition, every child in this program has been diagnosed with malnutrition and was considered “at high risk of developing a secondary complication” such as pneumonia, which is the leading cause of death in public orphanages. Basically, the weakest of the weak were chosen for this program.
In August, the Shanghai Dream Foundation hired and trained 10 caregivers. These caregivers were trained in feeding techniques, nutrition, and therapy exercises. At that time, each child was assessed and received his or her own specialized care plan that was then implemented each day by trained staff.
The initial assessments of the children showed that each child was in the <0.1 percentile (severely malnourished) according to international standards for children’s growth. Each child also had severe cognitive delays as evidenced by an absence of eye contact and a lack of facial expression or reaction to emotional stimuli (what is called a flat affect). Most of the children were unable to lift or control their head movements because of muscle weakness. In addition, many of the children had severe muscle contractures of the arms and feet due to immobility. After six months of daily therapy exercises, the children have made big improvements in mobility, eye contact and expressive behavior. Many children who could not sit up on their own or lift or turn their heads are now able to do so.
Prior to the New Life program, these 20 children had been frequently admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. A couple of months after the program started, the New Life staff were informed by the public orphanage leaders that since the program had started, the hospitalizations had dropped dramatically. We attribute these results to professional training in regards to safe feeding protocols and proper positioning, which help to prevent pneumonia.
In August, the New Life program implemented specialized feeding plans for each child. High calorie, high nutrient food is prepared daily by our staff. Since many children with cerebral palsy have issues with feeding, it is important to provide nutrition that is easy to swallow and yet provides a good balance of proteins, vegetables, and high energy foods. Before the program started, all of these children – despite being between the ages of 2 and 12 years old – were receiving only milk formula for each meal. Since the start of the program, the program has been able to use much less milk formula (and, as a side benefit, saves the orphanage money).
The program has seen incredible results in regard to the children’s weight gain. Within the months of August 2021 to January 2022, the New Life child’s average weight growth was 2.7 times that of a healthy child of the same age. In August, the BMI percentile for 17 of these children was <0.1. Six months after the program started, the average BMI percentile for those same children rose to 13. The other three children also experienced excellent gains in BMI, with two now at above-average weights.
Future Goals and Needs
Our hope is to raise the needed funding to not only continue this program for years to come, but also to expand and help more children. The monthly costs are approx. $7,500 USD / per month. We are looking for long-term sponsors who will be willing to partner with us to bring the needed care to these amazing kids. If you are interested in supporting, please contact us on Facebook: Shanghai Healing Home Nonprofit