Because poverty is not a choice…
The Pelicano Foundation assists underprivileged children from birth until they obtain a diploma or learn a trade. This foundation has a philanthropic purpose, intended to cover general welfare and medical, educational and social welfare of disadvantaged children and young people. The foundation is a politically and religiously neutral institution and is under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid.
In Belgium, one child out of four lives in poverty, a mind-boggling figure. The 2012 UNICEF report taught us that 35.3% of newly composed families also end up in poverty. One of the worst consequences is social exclusion. The Universal Declaration of Child Rights states: ‘Child poverty is a violation of the right to optimum development’.
The Pelicano Foundation shows children and the Belgian population that it takes child rights seriously. The following considerations show us the importance of the social healing effect of the Pelicano Foundation. Neurological research has shown that living in poverty causes a lot of stress in a child which hinders the development of young brain cells because of the spontaneous production of cortisone, a natural stress hormone. In this way the child loses brain capacity, resulting in an inevitable loss for society.
Poverty at a very young age from 0 to 6 generates physical developmental delays and sentences these children to a life of disadvantage – unless something is done on time, i.e. before they turn six.
Fortunately the story of child poverty is not just about pessimism and drama, but above all of hope. It has been scientifically proven that children under the age of six, who received focused support, experience a better development. Investing in this yields proven results.
Prof. Dr. Peter Adriaenssens
Children and Adolescent psychiatry University Hospitals Leuven