If you've been following our social media updates or watching news coverage of the disasters in Japan you may have heard that we've set up "Child Friendly Spaces."
While the term is somewhat self-explanatory we thought it'd be nice to give you a quick crash course so you can understand precisely what kind of work we are doing in Japan, and in other disaster or conflict-affected areas for that matter.
While the spaces have slight variations depending on the country there are a few basic tenets that remain the same.
The spaces are always a clearly designated area in a shelter. In some cases this will be a classroom in a school or specific tent while in others it will simply be a roped-off section of a room.
The areas are monitored by specially trained Save the Children staff and local volunteers who lead activities for the children. Activities are culturally relevant and something the children are familiar with, in Japan children have been making origami crafts while in other countries children may play tug-of-war or sing songs and dance.
Our staff is trained to identify children who may be particularly vulnerable by the incident. The staff and volunteers try to ensure that children with disabilities, those who come from different ethnic or gender groups are involved in the activities and that everything is age and gender appropriate. Local volunteers are also continually trained throughout the time that we run CFS so that they are better able to help organize more interactive activities and help prepare children to return to school, once they reopen.
As Mike Penrose, Save the Children Australia's Director of Emergency Response, explains Child Friendly Spaces have benefits for both parents and children.
"They enable parents to have time to register for emergency assistance and start to re-establish their lives while simultaneously providing children with a sense of normality and community when their lives are disrupted by disasters."