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Compassion International Sees Promising Results in Infant Exercise Program

Contact: Jay Lees, 719-487-6457; Julie Koshy, 719-487-6290; both with Compassion International; Online Press Kit


COLORADO SPRINGS, Mar. 29 /Standard Newswire/ -- A select group of babies registered with Compassion International's Child Survival Program, are demonstrating increased muscle strength, coordination and motor skills, as part of a new test program. The Christian child development organization is monitoring the babies to evaluate the impact of an exercise regimen created by BabyBuilders, an infant exercise regimen originated in Tulsa, Okla.


The exercise curriculum, which is implemented in more than 30 Compassion Child Survival Programs in Kenya, India and the Philippines, is credited for helping mothers and caregivers prevent developmental delays in their children. Compassion's Child Survival Program provides prenatal care and educational, nutritional and medical assistance to poor, pregnant women, mothers and caregivers of babies in the developing world, where the infant mortality rate is very high. Compassion started using the BabyBuilder's exercise plan in its Child Survival Program in late 2003 and is already seeing major improvements.


"Most of the women whose babies are in the program say the babies appear to have stronger muscles and bones than their older children at that age," said Emily Kagiri, Compassion Kenya Child Survival Specialist. "Some children have even started talking earlier than their mothers expected. The BabyBuilders program is a tool that is effective in sharpening a child's cognitive skills in a way that many women in Kenya are not used to."


Researchers know the first five years are a crucial period in a child's development that directly affects the quality of his or her adult life. Brain development is almost wholly completed by age two. Without intervention, children under age two will take much longer to reach motor skills abilities. They will be walking and grasping objects at much later ages than would be expected and would not be as well prepared to take on the challenges of their environment.


"That's why it's crucial that Compassion lays a foundation that supports infant development, ensuring the babies in our programs grow up in environments where their physical, mental and social needs are met," said Rebeca Harcharik, Compassion Child Survival Specialist. "Compassion is greatly concerned the babies meet certain developmental milestones, because if they don't they are at an increased risk for compromised health and learning delays, likely hindering their chances of reaching their full potential."


The BabyBuilders program includes stimulation techniques aimed at increasing babies' strength in their necks, shoulders and stomachs. The workout improves the babies' balance, flexibility and equilibrium so they can independently sit and stand up. The program also teaches hand-eye coordination exercises, advancing the babies' abilities to grasp items, such as toys. The curriculum has received enthusiastic reviews in the Philippines where Compassion Child Survival specialists report how at-risk babies and toddlers are crawling and walking on their own.


"These may seem like simple achievements, but they have far-reaching implications," said Harcharik. "Many of the countries Compassion works in have babies who don't live to see their fifth birthday because of the lack of basic health, food and developmental resources. This program is just one of the components to our vast effort in combating this tragic trend." Compassion, which works with about 4,000 indigenous churches, enrolls children in its sponsorship program at about four years of age. The organization created CSP when it realized how many children in some of the world's most impoverished regions would never reach that age. Compassion has been so pleased with the BabyBuilders programs that it plans to introduce them to four projects in Ethiopia soon.


Compassion International is one of the world's largest Christian child development organizations, working with more than 65 denominations and thousands of indigenous church partners in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Since 1952, Compassion has touched the lives of more than one million children and has been recognized for its financial integrity with top ratings and recommendations by several of the nation's leading not-for-profit "watchdog" organizations. For information about sponsoring a child, contact Compassion online at or by calling (800) 336-7676, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., MST.