Rock en Water Costa Rica

On May 17, 18 and 19, twenty refugees followed a three-day Rock and Water basic training supplemented with information and exercises from the RW Trauma and Grief Training. The training was given by Freerk Ykema and Rebeca Pauwels.

The participants included journalists, psychologists, management of assistance organizations, a pediatrician and others.

The training was organized by the Belgian human rights organization RIDHE, with whom the Rock and Water Institute has entered into a partnership. Both, short and long term goals are discussed and pursued. In this context, discussions are being held with organizations from embassies to ministerial level.

In Latin America, millions of people are on the run, for economic, political, and environmental reasons, all have had to deal with traumatic experiences and have a strong need for (lost) autonomy and connection. The RW program provides this in a unique, very effective way.

These were three very intensive, eventful days with plenty of room for moments of reflection and exchange. The evaluation after the training started with the joint singing of songs. Every participant felt enormously strengthened and connected to the group on a deep level. The general wish was expressed that every child, young person and adult (every citizen) in the region would be able to receive Rock and Water training.

RIDHE: International Network of Human Rights Europe – RIDHE is een netwerk van Europese en Latijns-Amerikaanse organisaties die pleiten voor integraal respect voor de mensenrechten, positieve vrede bevorderen en eerlijke en ondersteunende sociale, economische en milieurelaties bevorderen door middel van pleitbezorging, bemiddeling en dialoog met verschillende instellingen.

CONGRATULATIONS! There are new Rock and Water schools!


– Mgr. Bekkers School in Spijkenisse

– KBS de Maasoever in Spijkenisse
– RSG Slingerbos in Harderwijk
– De Ezelsbrug
in Sevenum

– Jozef School in Wernhout

– SBO Het Palet in Klundert

– OBS de Brink in Roermond
– Elementary school Vijfblad in Geldrop
– OBS De Stapsteen in Herten



– BuLO Het Veer in Antwerp

New publication pre-vocational secondary education research (NL)

Solid as a rock, flexible as water? Effectiveness of a school intervention targeting the intrapersonal and interpersonal domains.

This study aimed to investigate whether 1) the school intervention Rock en Water (R&W) was effective in improving competencies and preventing problems in the intra- and interpersonal domain of students in pre-vocational secondary education (vmbo), and whether 2) intervention effects changed when more people were involved in the intervention (core team of teachers, whole school team, whole school team and parents). We conducted a randomized controlled study among first class students (N = 1299; M age = 12.38; 54 % boys) who completed digital questionnaires four times. The results showed that R&W improved a number of intervention-specific outcomes (self-control and emotional self-regulation), outcomes in the intrapersonal domain (psychological well-being, sexual autonomy and internalizing behavior) and in the interpersonal domain (aggression), but only when a core team of teachers was involved in the implementation of the intervention. The (moderate) intervention effects were greatest in the first year of the two-year intervention. These results show that R&W can produce positive effects among these students when implemented by a core team. So it seems valuable for schools to invest in interventions with a learning style that matches that of the target group, with a high quality of implementation and a limited number of people involved.

Practice leaflet

1. The pre-vocational students report more problems in the intra- and interpersonal domain than senior general secondary education students and pre-university students.
2. We examined: 1) the effectiveness of the school intervention Rots and Water for stimulating the intra- and interpersonal domain in pre-vocational secondary education students and 2) whether effectiveness changed as different people were involved in the intervention (core team teachers, whole school team, whole school team and parents).
3. The intervention showed moderate positive effects, particularly on outcomes in the intrapersonal domain, when only a core team of teachers was involved in implementing the intervention.
4. Intervention effects were greatest in the first year of the intervention.
5. It seems valuable to invest in proper training for and quality implementation by a core team.


  • Mertens, E., Dekovic, M., van London, M., & Reitz, E. (2023). Solid as a rock, flexible as water? Effectiveness of a school intervention targeting the intrapersonal and interpersonal domains. Youth in Development, 1(1).

Rock and Water training in Costa Rica, Turkey and Kenya

Costa Rica

As part of the cooperation agreement between the Rots and Water Institute NL and the International Network for Human Rights Europe (RIDHE), a Rock and Water Introduction Training was held in Costa Rica in late October 2023. For a day and a half, several community organizations in San Jose experienced the capabilities of the Rock and Water methodology. The training was led by Freerk Ykema and Rebeca Duarte, who also gave presentations and met with members of international organizations that provide psychosocial support to people in vulnerable situations.



Rock and Water trauma training in Turkey

On Feb. 6, 2023, two powerful earthquakes struck southeastern Turkey’s Kahramanmaras province. The earthquakes claimed thousands of lives, caused unimaginable human suffering and caused extensive damage to homes and infrastructure across the region.

In the months that followed, the Rots & Water Institute provided assistance in several areas including providing a two-day Trauma Training in Ankara to a group of 30 psychologists. For that particular occasion, a workbook in Turkish was compiled and made available to participants. Leading up to the training, talks were held in Ankara with (and at) the Ministry of Education, the Turkish Association of Psychologists and AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Authority. The training was presented by Freerk Ykema, Gönül Dural (RW Master Trainer Turkey) and Zehra Yaman (co trainer, director Atlantis Education & Consultancy/Turkey). The training was evaluated very positively by all participants.


Rock and Water lessons in Kenya

The Rock and Water Institute is an important sponsor for Stichting4Life Foundation. This foundation invests in children by offering an education and nutrition program. They do this in Africa’s second-largest slum. This one is located in Kenya, Naïrobi. The neighborhood is called Kibera. Money alone is not the solution to poverty. Investing in education, training and internship is the path from dependence to self-reliance and independence. Since 2018, annual Rock and Water training has been provided to teachers at the 4 schools in the Kibera slums. The teachers of these three primary schools and one secondary school, train 1000 children every year, giving them important tools in their humanity under challenging conditions. For these children, teachers are important, predictable, safe and reliable adults who guide children in their humanity. The Rock and Water method supports teachers in this responsible task with an educational tool and supports children with lots of practical exercises to choose between Rock: “I am rock, I am strong and I take good care of myself,” and Water: ‘I am water, we are strong, we take good care of each other’.



Successful Rock and Water training for 200 employees Wolfsbos schools

For several years, students at Wolfsbos have been receiving Rock and Water lessons. After many positive experiences, the idea arose to introduce all Wolfsbos employees during the school-wide study day with the Rock and Water program.


Own Boundaries & Communication:
The program for all Wolfsbos employees started with a theoretical, interactive introduction by workshop leader Freerk Ykema of the Rots en Water Institute Netherlands. Ykema explains to the staff: “Rock and Water emerged from practice where the effectiveness of the program has been confirmed by many studies. Rock stands for being able to indicate one’s own boundaries, to make decisions independently, to go one’s own way. Water stands for communication, being able to listen, look for solutions together, and respect the boundaries of others.”

Professional development
After a few simple exercises to warm up the muscles, the staff got down to the practical part in the school’s sports hall. Ykema explains, “The exercises and simple games that the employees started working on today require little skill, however, the fun and learning effect can be great. It shows, the employees are very serious about the assignments but fortunately there is also a lot of laughter in the gym. Even a few hours of Rock and Water training in this way can have a positive impact on both personal and professional development”.

New insights
During the practical party of the Wolfsbos study day, exercises and games are regularly interspersed with moments of psychoeducation, self-reflection and circle discussions. In conclusion, a processing assignment for optimizing transfer from practice to practice follows. Dries Koster, director of Wolfsbos indicates: “Learning to use the Rock and Water concept also gives our staff more insight into social situations and the impact of their own behavior. As a school, we therefore consider it important that not only our students but also all of our employees are introduced to the Rock and Water concept. Given all the positive reactions, an absolutely successful study day with great new insights.”

Note to editors:
For more information, contact Sytske Poppinga (Communications/PR Wolfsbos), tel. 06- 39 57 06 87 or e-mail: [email protected]

Photo: Wolfsbos employees enthusiastically engage in Rock and Water training.

RIDH Europe signs cooperation agreement with RWI

On July 28, the Rots en Water Instituut Nederland and RIDH Europe signed a cooperation agreement in Belgium. This collaboration allows us to promote educational projects that focus on training social and communication skills, reinforcing positive behaviors and relationships.

Rock and Water in Tanzania

On March 7, 8 and 9 of 2024, the first three-day Rock & Water Basic Training took place at the International School Tanganyaka in Dar es Salaam. The training was presented by Freerk Ykema, and organized by Advanced Trainer Margreet Faas-de Boer, assisted by her Tanzanian Rock & Water team. Forty teachers participated in the training, some from international schools and some from local, public schools. The evaluations of the training were extremely positive, expressing a desire to make Rock and Water available to every child and young person in Tanzania. Within that perspective, successive discussions have taken place with some school boards and Unicef Tanzania.

Prior to the three-day training, Freerk Ykema gave a presentation at the residence of the Dutch Embassy. The week also ended with a short training for the staff at the Dutch embassy.

Below is a link with photos that give an impression of the training. The photographer (and photos) were a gift from Mrs. Nadhège Bini (working at the Congolese Embassy in Dar es Salaam and married to the Congolese Ambassador), also a participant in the training and a team member of Rock and Water Tanzania.

Rock and Water Wristbands

R&W wristbands

The beautiful orange blue colored silicone wristband with the text “Rock and Water” reminds students in a fun way of the important R&W lessons and thus increases the transfer to daily (school) life. The straps have a circumference of 180mm. Nice to hand out at the last class!


Price: €1.00 each (minimum print run 30 pieces). For print runs of 100 or more: €0.85 each.

Includes VAT, excludes shipping costs.

Order at [email protected]. Don’t forget to include the billing and shipping address.

New Rock and Water Posters

The new posters are here! These posters were designed especially for Rock and Water by renowned Australian children’s book illustrator Stephen Michael King. The poster set consists of 10 A2 posters (single-sided gloss laminate) of high quality. The ten posters cover important themes and lessons within Rock and Water and are perfect for visually reinforcing the program at school. This reminds students of the important lessons in a fun, playful way, thus increasing the transfer to everyday (school) life.

The new posters can be ordered for €95 per set (including VAT, excluding shipping). The posters are only available as a set and not available separately. If you would like to order the posters, please send an e-mail with the billing and shipping address to [email protected].

New research Rock and Water published

The most recent research on the effectiveness of Rock and Water was published in the Journal of School Psychology (volume 92-2022).
The study, in which 1,299 students participated, took place between 2016 and 2020 and was conducted by the University of Utrecht.

Results show that students who had the R&W intervention show better development on multiple outcomes in both the interpersonal domain (aggression) and the intrapersonal domain (psychological well-being, sexual autonomy, internalizing behavior) and on secondary outcome measures (self-control and emotion regulation), relative to students who did not have the R&W intervention. Outcomes were strongest in the first year and when a core team of teachers was involved in implementing the intervention.

Click here for the full published article Dr. E.C.A. (Esther) Mertens.