November is National Children’s Month!
When disaster strikes, children are among the most vulnerable. Many are quick to send relief and aid, in the form of food, clothes and medicine. But one of the most important needs is often overlooked: children’s need for play.
Studies show that children can use play not only to cope with difficult emotions, but also as a way to accelerate healing and recovery from trauma. This is why Unilab Foundation has Play It Forward.
Regina Layug Rosero, media relations officer said ‘Play It Forward’ is a science-and evidence-based program that provides opportunities for children to express and understand their feelings through a play curriculum and a structured or mobile play space.
With the help of partners like World Vision and the Department of Education, Play It Forward has reached over 3,500 children in disaster-struck and disaster prone areas around the Phi-lippines, she said.
The Play It Forward-On The Move (PIF-OTM) project of Unilab Foundation, Inc., in partnership with World Vision Philippines and the Department of Education (DepEd), recently provided specialized psychosocial care and support to students and parents from Anomar Elementary School in Surigao City. The PIF-OTM play days took place from September 16 and 17, 2017, to build the resilience of the community after the earthquake that struck the city and devastated the school last February 2017.
Thirty teachers and Disaster Risk and Reduction Management coordinators from DepEd Surigao City Division received training on PIF-OTM from September 13 to 15, enabling them to become PIF-OTM facilitators equipped to provide basic psychological first aid to parents and children through child-centered play days whenever and wherever needed. After the play days, teacher-facilitators began preparations to cascade their experience and knowledge to their respective divisions.
A total of 215 students of Anomar Elementary School, from Kinder-garten to Grade 7, partici-pated in the PIF-OTM play days. In addition, 50 parents also learned about how disasters and crises situations like the earthquake can have a severe effect on children, and how understanding and caring for them can help with healing and renewed growth.
“We hope we can build to a more sustainable and more continuous partnership [between Unilab Foundation and World Vision] na hindi lang focused sa disaster,” explains AJ Renomeron, a Corporate Engagement Specialist from World Vision Philippines, “but possibly leading to education and health and nutrition, which are some of the other advocacies that World Vision pursues.”
The PIF-OTM play days were the first of their kind in Mindanao, and the first such imple-mentation after an earthquake. PIF-OTM brought the intervention to typhoon-affected areas, such as Typhoon Yolanda-hit Tacloban in 2016, Typhoon Lawin-hit Isabela, and just recently in Marinduque, after Typhoon Niña (2016).
Unilab Foundation, Inc. is the corporate foundation of United Laboratories. True to the belief that quality healthcare is for all, it is Unilab Foundation’s mission to build a healthier Philippines, one person, one community at a time.