The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child should have the right to play. This makes sense because play supports brain development and the development of essential life skills. But Handicap International’s long-standing experience in refugee camps teaches us that displaced and vulnerable children are often deprived from play. Children with disabilities are even more likely to be excluded from play.
Handicap International implemented the project Growing together in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand, funded by Ikea Foundation. The project enables all children, no matter how difficult the situation, to access that most precious of things, play. All children deserve a childhood and play is at the heart of a happy and healthy childhood.
Handicap International (HI) works with vulnerable and displaced children all over the world. And on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day, we want to give those children the chance to talk about their life in their own language.
Children like Sanda, Aung Misbah and And Eh Tha Moo. These three refugee children have shared their dreams and fears through drawing. With the help of animation, their drawings come to live and tell the story the children wanted to express.
When children lack the emotional language to communicate their wants and needs, ideas or things that are important to them, drawing is a useful way to help them express their voice. Therefore, drawing activities are an important aspect of Growing Together.
“Play in displaced settings is especially critical. Children in displacement settings are often deprived of adequate stimulation and the input that a young brain needs, which has a significant long-term impact on the attainment of life goals, good health and quality of life. Moreover, displaced children often suffer from exposure to hardship and stressful situations (e.g. trauma, war, abuse, violence). This can put children in a state of anxiety and distress, which is not an optimal state for learning, growth and development. In that case, play is even more important.” explains Jodie Nguy, Inclusion and Accessibility Program Officer for the Growing Together project in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand.
Marlene Sigonney, Handicap International UK
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About Handicap International
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is a charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.
About the Growing Together Project
The project Growing Together, set up in 2016, will run for four years and empowers 13,000 vulnerable boys and girls (0-18 years old) and their families in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand. Besides the creation of inclusive, educational playgrounds, the project will also pay attention to the youngest children who are at risk of developmental delay. Thanks to early child stimulation and play, we strengthen and promote children’s development, and the lives of children with long-term disabilities can be made more fulfilling. In a safe environment, parents and caregivers will learn how they can support their child to develop and be more independent.
At the same time, the project will engage with local child development service providers to be more responsive to the needs of disabled and vulnerable children, and it will help these organisations to implement measures facilitating the inclusion of these children in schools and communities. The collaboration with local organisations will help to ensure the sustainability of the project.
The project is funded by the Ikea Foundation.