Child Friendly Spaces
At least 3 million Syrian children under the age of eleven know nothing but war, and millions more have grown up in fear under the shadow of conflict. They are the next generation who will have to rebuild their shattered country – their future and the very future of Syria is in the balance. The stakes could not be higher. Studies into the mental health of Syrian refugee children in the diaspora have shown staggering levels of trauma and distress. However, much less is known about the impact on children living in Syria, one in four of whom is now at risk of developing mental health disorders. (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview – Syrian Arab Republic).
We build Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) and design child friendly activities to help reduce a range of distressing effects of a crisis on children. CFS activities are designed to build on children’s natural and evolving coping capacities, and proactively involve children in the selection of activities to ensure that the activities are relevant to children. They can help children establish a sense of security and build self-esteem. CFS can provide a child-focused and child-friendly environment in which children continue their cognitive development and can give them opportunities to learn on a variety of levels. In addition to child friendly spaces and activities, we also advocate and mobilize communities around the protection and well-being of all children, and provide opportunities for children to play, acquire contextually relevant skills, and receive social support.