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Unicef and Save the Children's 'Child-Friendly Spaces'

Unicef and Save the Children are creating safe, separate spaces for children to play and interact with one another through organized activities.

Photo of Laura Lighty
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It is undeniable that children need play integrated into their lives. Unicef and Save the Children promote this need through their development of "child-friendly spaces" all over the world.

According to the staff handbook for Save the Children, a child-friendly space "provide[s] children with protected environments in which they participate in organized activities to play, socialize, learn, and express themselves as they rebuild their lives." 

These spaces are currently being implemented during and after emergency situations, like natural disasters or areas affected by war and armed conflict. The goal is to provide children with structure and normalcy, as well as provide psychological and emotional relief. The coordinators of the space involve the children in activities ranging from storytelling to drawing to physical sports.

While these spaces are implemented in times of emergencies and crises, I believe they are just as applicable in the every day of low income communities.

Most importantly, Unicef and Save the Children have pinpointed a child's need for a safe, designated place to play, interact with their peers and learn.

These 'child-friendly spaces' could range from a designated tent area (like the one pictured above), schools, community centers, open fields or perhaps a space/area that occurs in low-income communities all over the world already, as Rafael Smith commented about corner stores in Tanzania:
https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/research/a-corner-store-on-every-block

Further Questions:

How can we integrate parents and caregivers into these spaces and the activities in these spaces?

What are locally available materials that people could use to create the space?

What kinds of play are important in the first five years of a child's life?

What other spaces are common in communities all around the world?

Open to comments and further discussions below!

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Great share, Laura. We can't wait to see what this inspires for our Ideas phase (now open!)