We are a start-up launched recently (June 2020) and bootstrapped with volunteer work. We want to be financially sustainable by late 2021. Until then, we have space for one partner that shares the same vision of educating today the leaders of the future.
Our vision and mission
Our vision is a better world, where today's children are tomorrow's leaders and have high emotional intelligence with the character traits that stem from it: teamwork, courage, honesty, empathy, resilience, gratitude, and social and environmental responsibility.
To get there, our mission is to teach children to recognise their emotions, understand the reason, and get their needs met; and also to help parents and teachers create a space to talk about emotions with their children.
Our first goal is children's happiness.
You can find all about us by clicking on the headings of this page. If you have any questions or feel that something is missing, please contact us.
Before the pandemic, 20% of children had low emotional awareness, which is one of the risk factors for anxiety (32% correlation) and depression (40% correlation) (Kranzler et al., 2016). These problems have been increasing: anxiety and depression rose 50% between 2003 and 2007 (Center for Disease Control) and the situation worsened with the pandemic (Barnardos, 2020): in the first year of covid, 25% of children experienced elevated depression symptoms and 20% experienced elevated anxiety symptoms (Racine et al, 2021).
It is a fun children's series for 4-8 year olds that develops social and emotional learning. It focuses on emotional awareness, emotional regulation, and positive character traits like honesty and courage. The main content is a video story lasting 5-10 minutes that uses one main lesson from the science of emotions, weaves that message into a concrete story, and finishes with a song. It also provides quality educational videos and activities and podcasts. The characters in the videos are puppets and the main character is Bulgy (the puppet on our website's logo). Each day of activity takes between 10 minutes and 1 hour to complete. Families and schools can access content on our website and complete the program flexibly and at their own pace.
Fortunately, many initiatives are working on this problem. They fall roughly in two groups:
- Training and professional development of educators, for example the RULER programme from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, which takes one year of training teachers and schools. These in-person programmes are effective and based on science but take time and significant resources to implement with teacher and school training.
- Videos and movies that cover emotions, such as Sesame Workshop and Inside Out. These digital video programmes scale easily but miss the human relationship that is at the heart of emotional intelligence.
Our solution uses the best of both approaches:
- it is scalable because most content is digital and we use the internet to distribute videos, podcasts, and songs;
- it is effective because teachers and parents not only see the videos along with children, but they also apply the messages in specific situations of children's lives.
A perfect example is the story one mother told us. Her 4-year old daughter was riding a bicycle and stopped in front of a slope. The mother mentioned episode 6, where Wisecrack feels afraid of waves, names his emotions, and the fear no longer controls him. The child followed the same steps, felt relief, and cycled down the slope.
We use the scalability of digital communications over the internet and the effectiveness of personal communications within the family or the school. Children learn by analogy with the tangible examples in the stories and thanks to personal communication with adults. Our innovative method is both digital and human, artistic and scientific, entertaining and educational.
We measure our impact with external assessments by research centres, surveys of educators, families, and usage of our website. The external evaluation and the numbers show that our solution works and that the problem is urgent.
Independent evaluation by a research universityJoana Oliveira was a post-graduate student during 2020/2021 at the Santa Maria School of Health, advised by Catarina Simões.
The main result is that the programme is accessible and effective in teaching emotion identification and emotion regulation strategies.
Through a partnership between Bulgy and the School of Health, she included the Bulgy programme to prepare a project within the scope of her specialty and hopes to publish these data soon. In the meantime, she drafted the following preliminary results:
In order to comply with the study plan of the Postgraduate Course in Community Nursing at the Santa Maria School of Health, I developed an internship at the Group of Health Centers ("Agrupamento de Centros de Saúde," ACeS) of Espinho/Gaia, at the Community Care Unit ("Unidade de Cuidados na Comunidade," UCC) of Arcozelo/Espinho. It started in February 2021 and will end on the 24th of September 2021.
I used the Health Planning methodology, which consists of the following steps: situation diagnosis, definition of priorities, setting goals, selecting strategies, designing of programs and projects, preparation for execution, execution, and evaluation.
The proposed theme was awareness of mental health and social-and-emotional skills in school-age children.
In the diagnosis of the situation, I carried a survey of needs on Health-Related Quality of Life in children. I did this survey by applying the Kidscreen-52 questionnaire to students attending the 3rd and 4th grades at the Basic School Espinho 3.
The type of study developed was descriptive, cross-sectional and the approach quantitative, where a sample of 128 children was selected after the application of a non-random sampling technique to the target population.
In the second stage of Health Planning - determining priorities - health needs were identified and subsequently prioritized through the analysis grid method.
Thus, after applying this method, the problems considered Priorities for performance were: Provocation and General Mood.
In this sense, and following the Health Planning methodology, I prepared a project titled "ensinAmente", whose aim was to sensitize the target population to the importance of identifying and managing their emotions. This project also aims to raise awareness among the target population for the identification of the various types of violence and to identify existing support resources in the community.
I used the episodes of Bulgy in Education for Health about the management of emotions, and the results obtained in this session were as follows:
- Rate of children able to identify two characteristics of emotions: 98.6%
- Rate of children able to distinguish at least three emotions: 99.3%
- Rate of children able to identify two strategies to manage emotions: 83.1%
- Do you consider the topic useful?: 95.1%
- Did you understand the contents covered?: 98.6%
- Would you like to have more sessions on this topic?: 86.6%
School survey results
The following results come from a questionnaire between 25th May and 10th June 2021 to 35 educators that had done the first 7 sessions or more. Of these, 14 answered (response rate: 40%) with answers for 299 children with 6.1 years of age on average (standard deviation: 1.9).
The main result is that the majority of educators strongly agree that Bulgy helped children in the following areas: emotional awareness, emotional well-being, problem-solving, self-confidence, self-awareness, emotional expression, empathy, courage, reduced conflict, reduced stress.
The questionnaire drew inspiration from the "Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire" and had these instructions.
Below are 10 statements about the possible impact of Bulgy on your classroom. For each, please mark whether you disagree, somewhat agree, or strongly agree. Please take into account the videos, podcast, activities, and conversations that arose because of Bulgy and the change in behaviour of children in general.
Family survey results
The following results come from a questionnaire between 7th and 10th March 2021 for the 76 families that done the first 9 sessions or more. Of these, 55 answered (72% response rate) with answers for 71 children with 6.6 years of age on average (standard deviation: 2.2).
The main result is that 89% of children change behaviour, especially they have are happier, have more courage, and become calmer.
The questionnaire drew inspiration from the "Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire" and had these instructions.
Below are 5 statements. For each of them, choose one of the following options:
- Not true
- Somewhat true
- Very true
It would help us a lot if you answer all statements to the best of your ability, even if you are not absolutely sure or if the statement sounds strange. Please answer based on Bulgy's impact (videos, podcast, activities, and conversations that it sparked) and the child's general behavior (independently of lockdown in the last few weeks).
We believe we are solving an urgent problem because of the growth in our short-term measurs of impact (statistics below) and also because of the testimonials we hear from parents and children.
The following results are from the usage data of our website:
- 1.8: average number of times children watch each video;
- 96%: satisfaction of children regarding Bulgy's episodes (average of 343 ratings);
- 25 health professionals registered;
- 302 teachers registered;
- 1523 users registered;
- 11886 children following the programme;
- 16842 total views of our video episodes.
Our impact indicators exploded since we opened registration to the public in Portugal in January 2021 due to the new lockdown, as we show below. The first graph is the number of children whose adults used our website, the second is the number of new viewings of episodes, both over the 30 days prior to each date. The numbers are the growth of these indicators compared to the previous month. We update these figures each day.
We are a social enterprise and our first priority is to solve the problems due to low emotional intelligence among children (learn more). We first want to create impact and value, and only later capture some of that value.
Even so, we have some possibilities for sales that come from requests of our users, which we will explore with the goal of becoming financially sustainable by late 2021:
- Sell access to the content of the children's series by subscription to families and schools.
- Sell a licence to publishers for inclusion in virtual school programmes.
- Sell the children's series to schools with live theatre and facilitation sessions with discussion and sharing in classrooms.
- Sell the series to TV stations.
- Sell "puppet therapy" sessions over the internet for children to talk about emotions with Bulgy in the presence of parents.
We contribute mainly to:
- goal 4 of quality education, because emotional intelligence improves academic achievement by 11 percentile points (Durlak et al., 2011);
- goal 3 of health and well-being, because emotional intelligence has a 50% correlation with mental health and 27% with physical health (Martins et al., 2010); and because emotional intelligence has highly positive consequences, improving interpersonal relationships, group cohesion, and emotional well-being (Brackett et al., 2006).
In the long term, we also hope to contribute to:
- goal 8 of economic growth and decent work, because 47% of jobs are at risk of automation and of disappearing (Frey and Osborne, 2013) and the jobs of the future are those that an algorithm and robot cannot do, i.e. based on empathy and emotional intelligence;
- goal 12 of responsible consumption and production, because the correlation between consumption and happiness is low (0.2, Veenhooven e Vergunst, 2014) and we anticipate that children with emotional intelligence will, as adults, find happiness inside themselves without needing frenetic consumption and will not put pressure on the planet's resources.
Our theory of change, in an abridged format, is:
- our stakeholders are families or schools with children aged 4-8
- the problem is the low emotional awareness in 17% of children (learn more)
- one cause is the lack of emotional education in schools and in families
- our activity is a series of videos and podcasts to watch and listen as a family or in the classroom (learn more about the solution)
- our output is the number of registered families or schools
- our outcome is the improvement in emotional intelligence of children (measured by the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale)
- our impact in children is better education (measured by school results), health, work prospects, and happiness in life, in line with Sustainable Development Goals 4, 3, 12, and 8 (learn more)
- our short-term metric is an internet survey of registered families or schools with the main question being "Would you be very disappointed if you could no longer use our children's series?" (the standard measure of product-market fit).
- our monitoring is a pilot project in schools with random allocation and measurement of school results, levels of emotional awareness in children, and change in behaviour from interviews with parents or teachers (the project leader has a PhD and experience in randomised controlled trials, e.g. this proposal with ethics approval)
- our risks are mainly financial (if we don't generate enough revenue to become sustainable) and attrition (if families drop out of the programme), both of which we can and do quantify.
Our policy for equality, diversity, and inclusion rests on the following points.
We insist on gender parity both in the team and in our videos.
We follow practices from academic research (the project lead studied the economic impacts of discrimination): for example, we ask job candidates to omit the name on resumes to avoid cultural bias; for voice artists, we do interviews only with audio to avoid a bias of physical appearance.
Inside the team, we privilege sharing emotions and vulnerability, for example: we start and finish each meeting with a round of sharing our feelings in the moment, which creates psychological safety for teamwork and also helps deal with difficulties before they become problems.