Child Friendly Spaces is one of the 9 initiatives Teachers Without Borders supports, and involves providing psycho-social education for children caught in emergency and conflict settings. TWB recognises that teachers/educators are often First Responders in such settings: “Educators count children and reunite families by building child-friendly spaces.” (TWB, 2016)
CFS endeavour to support and protect children in these settings – both emotionally and physically. Such spaces serve to give children access to a safe place to play, learn and heal -through structured activities – and possibly have a momentary escape from living a life under conflict. The physicality of these spaces can range from tarps erected with ground tarps as flooring, fixed wall buildings, relocatable structures or even a pegged out piece of flat ground under a large shady tree.
Child Friendly Spaces are recognised by most humanitarian groups and NGOs as absolutely crucial spaces for children to take respite from the trauma and instability that is their daily life. World Vision, Columbia University, Save the Children, UNICEF and UNHCR – along with Teachers Without Borders are just some of the organisations championing Child Friendly Spaces. TWB try to use teachers local to the area, instead of bringing in teachers from other parts of the world, to facilitate/operate these CFS.
During my research of Child Friendly Spaces, I came across a document called “Guidelines for Child-Friendly Spaces” on TWB’s website ( Link to Document ) which listed the following recommendations for creating Child Friendly Spaces : Make CFS stimulating, participatory, and supportive environments (excerpt from p.7 and 8, Guidelines for Child-Friendly Spaces, 2011)
The very first recommendation in this list addresses creative activites such as “song, drama, dance, drawing, play” to be included in the CFS. This supports my own Future Learning Space vision, which is to use Art Therapy activities, incorporating key learning areas from the local education system curriculum, in the CFS – woven with the fundamentals of The Personal Learning Space and The Collaborative Learning Space.