by Adriana Ermter
According to Unicef, 50 per cent of people who have been displaced from their homes due to conflict are children. Often, they're living among strangers in a refugee camp without their families or friends. Everything is different and it's a lot to cope with. Even afterwards, when life returns to normal.
Frantic teaches the kids—we're at one million and counting!— in our programs how to manage their feelings and develop the skills they need to effectively approach life challenges, no matter what their personal circumstances may be.
The game begins with our Coaches asking the children to sit in a circle and share important issues that they face in their community. This could be anything from excessive competition at school and general boredom to peer pressure to get involved in political activities. As the kids brainstorm, the Coaches make a list.
Next, each child blows up a balloon and writes one of the challenges from the list onto it. Then, as a group, they release their balloons into the air. The kids can swat the balloons back and forth, but they can't hold them or let them touch the ground. If they do, the group receives a strike—three strikes and the game is over. Doesn't sound too hard does it? Here's the catch: every 15 seconds the Coaches release extra balloons into the air.
When the game is over, the Coaches bring the kids together to talk about their feelings, what it was like keeping all of the balloons afloat and what strategies they used to ensure none of them landed on the ground. After all of the children have shared their thoughts, the Coaches encourage the children to envision the balloons as challenges. The group talks about how it would feel if they had to juggle as many problems as they did balloons. They identify solutions to approach these challenges, individually and as a team. Last but not least, the children pick one of the issues from their original list and plan a strategy to correct it together.