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Child friendly spaces

Child friendly spaces
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Okay. So my name is Yasmin. I’m 20 years old. And I’m here at the Global Forum for Migration and Development as a youth delegate. And I’m here with UNICEF. I think that it’s really, really important that when we’re talking about children and young people that are on the move, and especially when they’re unaccompanied, is that we first of all we always have to offer them safe space, and here I mean safe space on the route but also when they’re actually then in the host community. Most importantly, we need the safe place for learning.
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We need it for playing, but also for boredom, because boredom is really important as well for children, because that’s the time where they can actually develop as personalities, as characters. It’s time where they can actually get creative. And I think that we need this safe space where they can just not think about their background, about their traumas, so that they can really unfold their potential and also to develop as human beings.
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And if that doesn’t happen, I think we face the really big threat that we fail to integrate them into society, because if we do not care for them, if we let them live with their traumas, their fears, then it will be so difficult to then get them back into society at a later point. So for me, a safe space is not only a location but it’s the whole environment around it. For one, it is the location, so it can be a room. It can be a house. It can be a city actually. You can think about this word in many ways.
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But secondly, it’s also about the people that are there, so people that you can talk to, people that you can refer to, people that you can just ask for questions. And these people are really, really important, I think, for migrant children and young people on the move, especially when they are alone, because they need reference people. They need people that they can trust, that they can open up to, because that’s also like a really, really important part in the development of a child. And here I’m thinking of adults or also other young people that can play a part in being this one person, this one reference person. It can be a teacher. It can be a mentor.
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It can be a friend. You know, it can be a volunteer. And I think that all of these people are actually important. And for a child, you need many of those people to actually make a change. Yeah. That’s a safe space for me. But also from another dimension thinking about the resources, because that’s another thing, that you have enough resources for every child. And here we have to distinguish between resources that are basic like clothes, water, food, but also then in another direction we need the schooling materials. We need toys. We need paper.
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We need pens, and not for school but also for leisure time, because if you give– it’s my opinion, but if you give children and young people something that they can do and that they can get creative with, then that’s a really big asset. And that’s a really– it’s the biggest present that you can make them– that you can give them. Also talking other resources– balls, sport materials, instruments. And these are all the things that contribute to the safe place. So summing it up, it’s like a location where there is safety. There is no war. There is no threat. Then it’s the people around that offer that are trustworthy that offer help. And then third it’s like the resources.

In the previous course step, we learnt how working in a child friendly manner includes providing a child friendly space where we can meet, listen, and offer support to children.

In this video, we hear Yasmin Yousef speaking about the importance of creating child friendly spaces for children. Yasmin is a UNICEF youth delegate and we were able to interview her when she was invited to speak at the Global Forum for Migration and Development, held in Morocco in December 2018. In the video we also see illustrations of child friendly spaces for unaccompanied and separated children that are being provided in refugee camps in Ethiopia, and in care settings in Mexico.

Child friendly spaces have become widely used to provide safe, creative and nurturing environments in which to play, learn and receive other key interventions such as psychosocial support, health, and educational activities. It is also important to create child friendly spaces that are accessible to all children. By clicking here you will be able to watch a short film showing children using an inclusive playground that UNICEF has opened in the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan. Please note, the film is only available in Arabic with English subtitles.

You can also find lots of other interesting information about child friendly spaces in different parts of the world by visiting the Save the Children website.

The ‘See Also’ section below also has links to other reading material that may be of interest to you.

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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