In the eastern part of Gaza, the Right to Live Society stands out visually as a large, bright, multicolored structure.
But, more importantly, it stands out because of its mission: to provide a nurturing learning environment to children with Down Syndrome and Autism.
Established in 1993, this non-profit provides the tools for these children to live as productive members of society. Through dance classes, arts and crafts, carpentry, and more, the Society aims to help these citizens of Gaza and to raise awareness throughout the region about what their graduates can contribute to their communities.
Recently, Anera has been able to make a welcome addition to the Society’s offerings. With Playgrounds for Palestine, Anera has installed a new play space for the children, designed and constructed locally with raw materials that came from recycled metals available inside of Gaza.
“For these children,’ says Nabil Juneid, manager of the Society’s psychosocial program, “Playing is much more than just a recreational activity. It helps the children relieve stress while maintaining fitness. It also helps them use their energy productively. The children use their muscles when jumping, climbing and sliding around. And, although it’s safe, the they are always accompanied by their teachers or supervised by coaches.”
When play time arrives, the children quickly assemble behind the two coaches, Alaa Qadoom and Abdallah Hamdan, and eagerly await their guidance. Both coaches have received specialized training and are able to offer various types of assistance as needed.
“Sports are very important to the children and benefit their muscle development. The activities mobilize their bodies and teach them how to control their movements,” said Alaa Qadoom.
To the children, though, the health benefits couldn’t be further from their minds as they climb, swing and slide. Their happy faces and loud laughter make it clear that for them it’s all about having a good time.