Recognising the important role that sport can play in supporting emotional recovery after an emergency, UNICEF and OFC have completed a six-month programme in Fiji to disseminate critical messages and support a sense of wellbeing through football.
Over 10,000 children have been involved so far and the final community festival takes place this weekend in Ba, Fiji bringing the Just Play Emergency Programme to a close. Over 500 children are expected to participate in the festival.
The programme is part of the emergency response to Tropical Cyclone Winston that ripped through Fiji in February, affecting 40 per cent of the population.
The emergency programme was devised and rolled out in record time within six weeks of Cyclone Winston. It is recognised as the only child-centred TC Winston programme, with parents and teachers reporting that children are sharing messages and healthy behaviour practices from the sessions with their families and the wider community.
The emergency programme builds on an existing platform, through which Just Play has trained 4,000 teachers and community volunteers and engaged 220,000 children in 11 Pacific Island countries. To date, the Just Play Emergency Programme has reached over 10,000 children across 12 of the most affected areas in Fiji and trained 385 coaches.
Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Pacific Representative, said, “The Just Play Emergency Programme has seen incredible success in the last six months and it is an honour to attend the final community festival to commemorate these achievements.
“The Just Play Emergency Programme promotes emotional wellbeing through sports and helps children aged 6-16 years, learn about and practice good hygiene, healthy eating, emergency preparedness and other life skills. Children are guided to safely share and reflect on the emotional impact that TC Winston had on them, their families and their communities.”
As part of the final festival, programme impact and preliminary results will be revealed, showcasing the positive effect the programme has had. Preliminary data collected during Phase II of implementation indicated the following impact:
• Of the adults interviewed, 88% reported that children were traumatised or distressed following the cyclone, while 81% of children interviewed reported being afraid during the cyclone
• Two months after the cyclone, 88% of children interviewed reported they are happy, with 95% reporting they have a safe place to play and 77% indicating this safe space is the school playground
• 100% of adults interviewed said the Just Play Emergency Programme has been positively received by their community, while 63% said that it is the only child-centered programme being delivered in their community
Fiji Football Association’s President Rajesh Patel added, “The emergency programme was devised and rolled out in record time within six weeks of Cyclone Winston. It is recognized as the only child-centred TC Winston programme, with parents and teachers reporting that children are sharing messages and healthy behaviour practices from the sessions with their families and the wider community.”
“Parents are also appreciative of the safe space the programme creates for children, allowing them to attend to rebuilding and other duties. Teachers have highlighted how activities and messages from the sessions build on the school syllabus and help children put knowledge into practice.”
The Just Play Emergency Programme was recently shortlisted for the Beyond Sport Innovation Award, with the winners due to be announced on 20 October 2016 in London, UK.
About Just Play Emergency Programme:
The Just Play Emergency Programme helps to ensure that children understand how to keep themselves and their families’ safe in the wake of a natural disaster, by supporting the delivery of critical information to those in affected areas.
By pairing existing Just Play messages on health and wellness, gender equality, social inclusion and child protection with messages on coping and recovering from emergencies, food safety, nutrition, handwashing and post emergency safety and security, children learn through play how to keep themselves and their families’ healthy and safe.
The Just Play Emergency Programme has been delivered in Vanuatu and Fiji as part of the Cyclone Pam and Cyclone Winston responses respectively.
OFC is charged with the task of servicing and administering football in the Oceania region while also using the game as a tool for social development. The Confederation is led by OFC President David Chung who was elected to office in 2011.
The OFC Just Play Programme is designed and monitored by the OFC Social Responsibility department, in partnership with Australian and the New Zealand Governments, the Football Federation Australia, the UEFA Foundation for Children and UNICEF. For more information about OFC or its 11 Member Associations visit: www.oceaniafootball.com
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicefpacific.org