Real lives



Children and families find unity through child-friendly spaces

©UNICEF Philippines/2014/Giacomo Pirozzi
UNICEF-supported child-friendly spaces like this one in Barangay San Jose are open every day for children's educational and recreational activities. Trained volunteers hold sessions for different age groups. Children play, participate in art therapy classes, play instruments, sing and dance.

The walls of the simple square building are covered in artwork. Colourful drawings from children of all ages are on display, as dozens of young boys and girls practice new songs, and youth play basketball in the courtyard nearby.

What started as a temporary child-friendly space in the rural coastal village of Borongan has, four months on, transitioned to an established community space where children, youth and adults, can come together. "As this rural community begins to rebuild," explains Ronel, a day care worker who manages the child-friendly space, "this space has become a focal point in our community."

Soon after the Typhoon hit, UNICEF and partners set up such spaces across affected regions, so children could have a safe place to play, learn key life skills, and receive psychosocial support towards healing and recovery. Today the child-friendly space in Borongan continues to play an important role in building individual and community resilience. "We used to have a problem with youth not having enough to do - there was a need for child-focused activities," explains Ronel. "After the Typhoon, the child-friendly space materials and training provided by UNICEF, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee, gave us that opportunity."

With daily scheduled activities for over 280 children of all ages, the community space is always bustling. The children have plans to create a performing arts club for music and dance. Ronel says that community leaders support the child-friendly space and plan to continue its activities in the future.

"This space has had a significant impact on the quality of children’s lives in Borongon," he says. "It has brought everyone together."



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