"I'm thankful that FundLife initiated the community sessions. Because of this, our attention and time from thinking about negative things are diverted. We do not only learn, but we also enjoy from the activities." (Kimberly, 16)
Kimberly is just one among the 57 children who are grateful to be part of the small group community-based sessions that FundLife started months ago to respond to the growing concern on mental health and education among children since the enforcement of the community lockdowns as a precautionary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It kicked off with just a few participant-players, but more children joined as it progressed. That's how the power of play combined with learning can transform things. As they say, a great way to give children meaningful opportunities to apply their learning is to make learning fun.
The project, which banks on a COVID-19 centered curriculum, seeks to strengthen children's awareness of hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and a particular focus on responsiveness to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also targets to empower children and young people by educating them on their fundamental rights and mechanisms to protect themselves from any form of abuse.
For the remaining months of 2020, the children learned about societal issues like drug use, misuse, avoidance and, mental health, and child protection issues. The coaches equipped them with knowledge and information, and life skills that they can use to adapt to the present situation. They also learned about goalkeeping, shooting, ball possession, and also positioning.
To date, 57 children participated in 21 fun, interactive and educational sessions. Play has always been a useful tool in teaching children. More often than not, children learn as they play. Because of play, they learn how to learn. And this is what FundLife saw during the 21 sessions that transpired in the last 3 months. Children are now more aware of their surroundings and the concerns that contribute to their well-being.
"I'm amazed at the changes that are happening with the children that we are teaching. Some are no longer shy to participate in the discussions; they now voluntarily speak their minds without being called to recite. They feel free to express their thoughts. Some players who don't know anything about football when they started joining can now kick and dribble the ball and evade defenders easily. You will see the enjoyment in their faces. It's heart-warming to know that most of them have good progress," one of FundLife's coaches shared.
Down to its last Saturday before the most-awaited Football Festival, where two batches will compete against each other, children are already excited to showcase the skills they learned in football and participate in games designed to test their memories, pro-activeness, abilities, and determination to win each game.
One of the players also expressed that his most memorable moments are when he gets to bond with the other players by playing fun games and engaging in fun activities that the coaches facilitate. "Every Saturday, we learn new things. The sessions are not dull because the coaches use play-based and fun activities. We always go home hungry for more learning."
FundLife uses play-based experiential learning to complement children's formal education and support their personal growth and development. Today, it strives to explore and discover more ways to improve children's access to education and psychosocial support.