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, including a zoom conversation with British Columbia's Representative for Children and Youth (Dr. Jennifer Charlesworth). 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. A Sandbox Project microgrant also supported IICRD to host a global drawing contest for children, where we received submissions in English, French and Spanish from across North America. Here are a few thoughts from children:
"My picture is about the beach. I like to play on the beach. The heart shows love for the whole world." - Caleb, Age 6, Antigonish Nova Scotia
“This heart represents the love the kids must have. Next to it, there is a frog that represents that animals are better due to people being quarantined.” - Fernanda, Age4, Mexico