Michelle is the Neighborhood Approach process manager at a children's playground in the Schilderswijk in The Hague, where she also lived. She has a large number 2 in her hands, the logo of 2Samen.

A promising start in every neighborhood
"Really making a difference"

“Despite my pre-university education advice, they told me at the secondary school of my choice that I would be better off going to another school with a pre-vocational secondary education department. "Just in case I dropped out." That does something to you. Ultimately I ended up at pre-vocational secondary education. Nothing wrong with that of course, but I could do more. At that moment I thought it was my fault. Now I know that the neighborhood where you come from plays a major role in the expectations that people have of you and the extent to which you are challenged to get the best out of yourself. That has to be different!”

Michelle (33) is Process Manager Neighborhood Approach at Childcare 2Samen and grew up in the Schilderswijk and surrounding area. She now uses her personal experience to really make a difference in every neighborhood. So that every child gets equal opportunities. Also from a vulnerable position.

How can 2Samen make a difference for every child?

“A specific approach for each neighborhood in The Hague is important to increase the chances of children. Because every child has the right to development. That is why at 2Samen we are also committed to neighborhoods where we have few or no locations. Fortunately, for us it is not about making as much money as possible, but mainly about social profit. We really want to see children with all their talents, care needs and backgrounds that influence behavior. This way we can provide an environment in which they can develop optimally. In our childcare and in the neighborhood.”

“We can't do that alone. We therefore actively seek collaboration with other organizations. In underprivileged neighborhoods, facilities such as childcare, but also schools, welfare and public transport are less suited to the needs of residents than in other neighborhoods. The self-image of people in underprivileged neighborhoods is often damaged by unpleasant experiences and prejudices. A neighborhood approach must take this into account.”

“We start in the Laakkwartier-Spoorwijk, Moerwijk and Schilderswijk districts. We still have few locations here and there is a major social mission. The other districts will follow afterwards!”

What is your motivation for this challenging social task at 2Samen?

“I know what it is like to grow up in a challenging environment. This allows me to be the connection between our goals and practice at 2Samen. After studying pedagogical work, I worked in childcare for more than 10 years. I have seen how much childcare can mean to children. It was a wonderful job, but I still felt the urge to continue learning. I studied history and then did the Masters in Migration and Diversity. All those experiences come together in my new position. That is amazing! I think it is important that every child recognizes his talents. And gets the opportunity to develop themselves as best as possible.”

In The Hague there are big differences between rich and poor. Where you are born largely determines what opportunities you get. I noticed that myself.

– Michelle, process manager Neighborhood Approach at Childcare 2Samen

What is your motivation for this challenging social task at 2Samen?

“I know what it is like to grow up in a challenging environment. This allows me to be the connection between our goals and practice at 2Samen. After studying pedagogical work, I worked in childcare for more than 10 years. I have seen how much childcare can mean to children. It was a wonderful job, but I still felt the urge to continue learning. I studied history and then did the Masters in Migration and Diversity. All those experiences come together in my new position. That is amazing! I think it is important that every child recognizes his talents. And gets the opportunity to develop themselves as best as possible.”

How do you approach the neighborhood approach in The Hague?

“The first step is to listen carefully to what the needs in the neighborhood are. From children, parents and pedagogical staff. I participate in our groups and conduct interviews. And I will talk to partners in the neighborhood. We want our locations to become part of the social network. You cannot increase opportunities in the neighborhood alone! 2Samen and other organizations can strengthen each other in this regard. We then consider what we can do in our childcare to optimally meet the needs in the neighborhood. Together with, for example, pedagogical employees, unit managers, partners, HR, communications advisors, pedagogical coaches, housing and everyone involved in these changes.”

Who do you work with to realize the neighborhood approach?

“2Samen joins forces with all kinds of local organizations. Think of libraries, clubhouses, entrepreneurs, CJG and the municipality. For the Laak district we join the UVO district consultation. We discuss developments and look at solutions with the library, Wijkz, Staedion, Police, Enforcement and neighborhood organizations. We participate in the organization of the Laak Festival and help think about the prevention of young people dropping out of school.”

What opportunities and challenges do you see?

By looking carefully at what is needed in childcare and collaborating with organizations with additional expertise, you can make a big difference. At the same time, it is quite complex. Getting people together and really taking steps is a challenge. Still, I have every confidence in it. We take it step by step and yes, every step is one!”

Michelle is process manager Neighborhood Approach is located in the Schilderswijk in The Hague, where she also lived.