I love to play. Over the years I've coached, taught P.E., and I've led lots of games through the organization Young Life. Right now my favorite thing to play is cricket with my god-daughters. We've tried to keep the rules, but decided making them up as we go can provide a lot more laughter. Oh, and adding music, well that allows for dancing as we wait on the field for the yellow, dog chewed, tennis ball to come our way after a successful swing at bat.
I've gotten to work with some very fun organizations throughout the past eight years including Kids Around The World. One of their areas of expertise is assisting ministries ship and build playgrounds internationally. In a partnership with K.A.T.W. and a slew of others; the Child Development Agency of Jamaica, Food for the Poor, Mustard Seed Communities, S.O.S. Children Villages, churches, private children's homes - Embracing Orphans will be encouraging play at children's homes throughout the island.
Why is play important? Thanks for asking.
Play is a very unique thing really. As you play with others you develop stronger social skills, communication skills, and strengthen your ability to regulate emotions. Play is one of the greatest tools to overcome trauma. When you are wrapped up in it, your mind doesn't wander. It gives rest to a mind that is stuck on replay, spinning through memories of abuse and fear. Play is a Sabbath for the mind and heart.
If you are looking for a way to help children heal physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally, consider play. I don't know if there is a study that shares how a kid can heal spiritually through play, but I believe it's hard to know the One who created waterfalls, the platypus, and my god-daughter "Boo" if you don't see and experience His playful nature. Yes, play can be part of your relationship with Jesus.
Jamaican children have a rough road ahead, especially those who have been abused, neglected, or are orphaned. UNICEF has the facts. In a document titled - "Key Facts - Children and Violence in Jamaica", 60% of 9 to 17 year old children reported that a family member had been a victim of violence and 37% had a family member who had been killed. Only 28% of children thought their home neighborhood was very safe.
Playgrounds and Child Directed Play are two of the ways Embracing Orphans will be encouraging play throughout the island of Jamaica. Any children's home in need of a commercial playground will receive one. This is no small measure, we will be placing them in thirty children's homes and partnering ministries throughout the island. The second way we are going to help kids heal is newly exciting to me - Child Directed Play.
I don't have a background in child psychology, but I've been doing a lot of reading, studying, and I've had the chance to talk with some experts this past year. All of this preparation allowed me to lead a training called Play Relief, which assisted childcare workers, social workers, Sunday and Sabbath school teachers, and educators in learning the basic skills associated Child Directed Play.
My favorite model for assisting parents and child care workers in Child Directed Play is called P.R.I.D.E. skills training. I'm not a fan of acronyms, but I like this one.
Would you do me a favor? Check out this link to what each letter means and why it's necessary for Child Directed Play. http://www.impactparenting.com/storage/post-docs/PRIDE%20handout.pdf
Embracing Orphans will be teaching P.R.I.D.E. skills at children's homes throughout Jamaica this summer. The great results of Child Directed Play and Parent and Child Interactive Play can be seen in this report called "The Case For Play". http://www.playgroundideas.org/wp-content/uploads/The-case-for-play-V5.pdf
If you are a parent who has adopted, have a child with a behavior disorder, or maybe are involved in global orphan care - get serious about helping kids heal - start playing.
Jesus heals and I think He plays,
Carl Robanske, Chairman