Psychosocial Support in Schools with Sports and Drama
During April-May 2021, UNESCO Ramallah Office, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education (MoE), conducted psychosocial support activities, using sports and drama in 20 marginalized schools in the Area C and East Jerusalem. The activities were implemented by UNESCO’s partners, YES Theatre and PS4L trainers.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, UNESCO with the financial support from the “Education Cannot Wait”, is supporting the MoE in the implementation of its National Response Plan for COVID-19. The plan indicated that the psychosocial support was one of the priorities to mitigate the physical and psychological impact of the prolonged lockdowns on students.
Consequently, the psychosocial support activities that have benefitted 1557 girls and boys, aged 12 to 16, provided the space often missing in marginalized schools, for the students to play and interact with each other. The project taught students how to develop life skills such as teamwork, healthy lifestyles, effective communication, perseverance, and planning while also promoting tolerance and values of respect, empathy and fairness.
A student said, “I enjoyed the day. It was fun and enjoyable for us. We learned about respect and love. I also liked discussions in the end of games that connected the game to our life”.
These kind of psychosocial activities are usually powerful means to support mental health, well-being, enhance cognitive development, encourage positive attitudes and behaviors as well as promote physical fitness of students while in lockdown as well as in school. During the event, he students had the opportunity to express their frustrations and release the stress caused by the pandemic, through performing theatrical sketches and playing different team sports. It also gave the chance to the students, especially the girls, to voice their opinions on life matters, which they rarely get to do.
"We learned to persevere to fulfill our dreams, not to lose hope, to be optimistic about life and to think about better future, no matter how difficult life circumstances are."
Trauma sensitive and responsive sport and art related programs can be powerful tools in helping communities, especially children to connect and heal. Therefore, building on the positive impact that this project had on the students and to ensure the sustainability of the activities, UNESCO Ramallah will organize 100 summer camps between July and August 2021 in the West Bank and will continue with school activities to counter learning loss in both the West Bank and Gaza.