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Play, Heal and Connect - Play Africa provides direct crisis relief from Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill: (c) Play Africa Group NPC, all rights reserved

(c) Play Africa Group NPC, all rights reserved

In response to COVID-19 and the lockdown, Play Africa (playafrica.org.za), an independent children’s museum based at Constitution Hill, is providing local families in Hillbrow with “play parcels” full of learning materials, information and resources that promote parent-child play and support families’ emotional well-being. 

Play Africa’s new Play, Heal and Connect programme supports the mental health of children and parents through play, information-sharing and dialogue, so that people feel seen, heard and connected during this unusual time. In this new children’s museum programme, Play Africa strives to fundamentally mitigate against the trauma, stress and anxiety of children and caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing critical psychological support and referrals to professional services. 

Working with local schools, ECD centres and community organisations, Play Africa has already distributed more than 250 play parcels to local families from Constitution Hill, while adhering to strict safety protocols.

“The advice and the toys were very useful to me, and also to the boys. They are very excited about the toys and used them right away,” said Matamela Nemaungani of Hillbrow. Nemaungani has two boys, ages 4 and 6, and was introduced to Play Africa’s programme through the Outreach Foundation.

In addition to Constitution Hill, Play Africa has partnered with Telkom, Rand Merchant Bank, and Care For Education to provide direct crisis support in three key areas:

1. Building Awareness of COVID-19 and Related Mental Health Issues Play Africa is using WhatsApp, text messages and social media to share accurate information about COVID-19 and related mental health issues, including how to access help, promote self-care strategies, normalise information about fear and anxiety, and how to support others.

2. Helping Community Partners and Schools to Help Children’s Healing

Play Africa is equipping schools, ECD centres and aftercare programmes to better support children. It’s helping local organisations in Hillbrow put human rights and relationships at the forefront of their response strategies. It’s also training local leaders how to identify children in most need of social buffering and how to put in place new safety and hygiene measures prior to re-opening

3. Helping Caregivers to Help Children’s Healing

Hosting virtual parent support groups with professional social workers and online training in children’s play, Play Africa is helping parents and caregivers respond to the chronic stress and deep ruptures of the pandemic.

Play Africa hopes to expand the programme to reach at least 1,000 more families. For more information about this programme, contact Tebogo Dube info {at} playafrica.org.za.

Images: (c) Play Africa Group NPC, all rights reserved


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