Building blocks of the future

Children are the next generation of builders in remote island communities, where quality materials can be scarce.

Since November 2014, as part of the one year commemoration activities, the Philippine Red Cross started distributing LEGO sets to the typhoon-affected schools. The Ortega Integrated School (in Aklan), a second home to almost 300 primary and secondary level school going children is one of the many to receive the building blocks.

The children’s eyes sparkle at the sight of LEGO. They even helped the Philippine Red Cross volunteers carry and transfer the boxes across the river in a makeshift raft.

The typhoon has left many children scared and exposed to a great deal of stress that can take a toll on their psychological well-being. But what does LEGO have to do with child development and education?

When children play, they learn. Studies have shown that play helps address stress and develop physical and social skills. Play is central to the lives of children and one of the best ways for them to cope with and overcome the trauma they have experienced.

“If left unresolved, a child can suffer the consequences of a trauma throughout its life. Play therapy is being used to communicate with Haiyan affected children, to resolve challenges they are facing,” says Archieval Molos, Head of Health and Education for Haiyan Recovery at the Philippine Red Cross.

“It is a part of their cognitive development.”

The Philippine Red Cross wants to inspire and nurture these children. They are the future leaders of the country.

“We are happy that our school was selected. The children here had never seen this toy,” one of the teachers said. “Most of our students would walk very far to get home. Now instead of going home, they spend their lunch break and play here. Even our secondary level students come and play; they compete on who can build the blocks faster or build new things using their imagination.”

The Philippine Red Cross in collaboration with the Singapore Red Cross Society is distributing 30,000 LEGO sets to 100 schools across Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo, Leyte and Samar. The project reaches more than 74,000 children.

A conducive learning environment coupled with creative play will help alleviate the trauma these children have faced.

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International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies