Gisela Maria Bernardes Solymos
In 1993, Gisela Solymos co-founded CREN (Center for Nutritional Recovery and Education), a Brazil-based non-profit that has pioneered an integrated approach to addressing child malnutrition. When Gisela completed the restructuring of the organization's governance and became a member of its Managing Board (2018), CREN had benefited almost 3.5 million people in Brazil, Latin America and Africa.
Nowadays, in partnership with Icensa (University of Notre Dame) and GAF, she is leading a new initiative that is integrating different types of knowledge and technology to have a more accurate vision of the root causes of child malnutrition and obesity and of successful and scalable solutions. As a psychologist, she has a unique view of malnutrition and has been studying the suffering associated with it, developing new ways to address the problem.
Gisela holds a Masters in Psychology and Human Development (USP, Brazil) and a PhD in Social Psychiatry (UNIFESP, Brazil). She is also a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur, Ashoka Fellow, and member of the NCDs Dialogue Series Steering Committee of the World Economic Forum.
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- Non-profit Social Enterprise
- Innovation; Sustainable Development
- Areas of Impact
- Latin America, Brazil
CREN Centre of Nutritional Recovery and Education
CREN Centre for Nutritional Recovery and Education has pioneered new methods to tackle widespread youth malnutrition (obesity and undernutrition) throughout Brazil, Latin America and Africa. In partnership with Unifesp (Federal University of São Paulo), research conducted at CREN has transformed the manner in which malnutrition is measured among young children. It has also demonstrated the negative consequences of childhood undernutrition in adult life and its co-existence with obesity. Contrary to the common treatment of simply medicating malnourished children, CREN addresses the problem through a holistic education method.
Within its three units in the state of São Paulo, CREN expands the conventional approach by not only undertaking medical and nutritional examinations, but also engaging children and their families in the whole treatment process as co-creators of the results to be achieved. Group workshops, home visiting and individual practices are used to make sure that the educational process will evolve into real changes in the families' life styles. Thus far, the centre's method has led to a long-term transformational impact. CREN also conducts theoretical and practical training with professionals of public schools and of the healthcare system, promotes active search of malnourished children in poor communities, and develops various strategies to prevent and fight youth malnutrition according to the needs of each particular reality.
Using a highly qualified, knowledgeable staff and renowned impact measurement system, CREN has developed new methodologies that are now widespread and used, such as: bringing nutritional education in child educational centres; and involving adolescents in fighting malnutrition in their own communities through interdisciplinary activities integrated into the school curriculum. In 2007, a CREN social franchise was founded in Alagoas, taking its expertise and methodologies to one of Brazil's poorest states. In 2017, CREN established a partnership with the municipality of São Paulo to train health professionals from 230 health units. The project, called The first 1000 days: Educate, Care and Nourish for life, will benefit 6,900 professionals and 500,000 families in one year. CREN's activities have benefited 3.8 million people, treated more than 145,000 children, and trained 35,000 people since its establishment in 1994.