School Activities Support the Mental and Physical Health of Students
In one of Jabalia Camp’s open green spaces, children gather for games and fun with big smiles and lots of laughter. Thanks to a generous donation from Zakat Foundation of America, Anera is reaching preschoolers like these kids in marginalized areas across Gaza.
The six-day program, which includes games, music, storytelling, and coloring, has engaged a large number of kindergarten-age children. Amani Khaddura, a teacher and one of the supervisors that Anera hired for the spirit days, says the interaction of the children was unprecedented.
"I’ve found that many children express their feelings through drawing, and they feel very happy doing so," says the 35-year-old teacher as she supervises face painting in a corner of the play area.
“I was very affected when one of the children approached me, kissed me, and said ‘I love you,’" Khaddura adds with a smile. "We can really see the great impact these activities have on the psyche of Gaza’s children.”
As a teacher Khaddura, has supervised children before, but she says participating in these activities has been her most meaningful experience. "These days came at the right time for the children, many of whom live in areas that were damaged in previous wars and were mentally and emotionally affected by the conflict."
“The children were amazed by the meals and gifts they received at the end of the program," Amani recounts.
"Many children express their feelings through drawing, and they feel very happy doing so."
Sa'ed Hameed has been working in the field of children's animation since 1994. He considers children the most important segment of society, but he says they are too often marginalised. "We can see the benefits of recreational activities for children – anything that makes them happy."
"We’ve given them many activities to do, like games, songs, sports and music," Hameed says. "Their reactions and their interactions with each other has been wonderful to witness."
Hameed knows that just a few days of activities are not enough to reduce their emotional and mental pressure from the difficult conditions their families have to endure. "Children in Gaza need year-round recreational programs to give them some time to breathe and not worry about anything. More play and outings will help them expand their skills and imagination."
He also stresses the need to train specialists and supervisors who work with children to provide the necessary skills to better treat and motivate children.
Short as it was, these children were vocal in expressing their enthusiasm for the full week of fun and activities.