As adult systems grapple with the global COVID pandemic - children’s worlds have been turned upside down.
As a small effort to meaningfully connect with younger children, IICRD has started a series of short videos and virtual space conversations with Giggles. This puppet visits hundreds of students every year in schools and through community services through IICRD's Child Thrive and PlayScope programs to explore the importance of every child’s right to be: healthy, safe, heard and to be themselves.
“Many of the safe spaces, supportive relationships, and favourite activities have abruptly stopped,” says IICRD’s Elaina Mack. “Parents and caregivers are stressed and worried about their livelihoods and elderly relatives. Meanwhile, children are left in “limbo land” - feeling disconnected, dealing with the unknowns, hearing and seeing very scary things in the news.”
All of this is creating difficult situations for all children around the world - let alone especially vulnerable young people where being at home is not very safe, or access to breakfast clubs is an important meal, or practicing culture or faith is more challenging.
“In all of these unsettling times, I want children to know that their voice counts, it matters and it needs to be heard,” says IICRD’s Val Cortes (and puppeteer). “Giggles can talk about the impact that COVID is having on her in a safe way, while encouraging children to think creatively about how they can practice their rights while staying at home.”
With thanks to a Capital Regional District IDEAS grant and Royal Roads University collaboration, Giggles hosted a virtual conversation with close to 50 children (ages 6-8) and their families in the Greater Victoria Area. Children shared their drawings and stories about how they are staying active, playing with art, connecting to nature and enjoying other activities to build their resilience while schools are closed.
"Play is a sanctuary of safety. Play is the orginal school, far more effective than anything sociey could possibly invent. Rather than try to make the home a school, it would be much more important in these times to make the home a true playground where Nature can take care of all of us." - Dr. Gordon Neufeld