New “Safe Park” format: “Safe Park” was designed for the children from the community to learn and play in a safe environment. Last April, regular program activities were replaced by COVID education workshops for children. These workshops are free and open to all children from the community. Since most families in the community had little knowledge about COVID, education was provided. Two COVID prevention workshops are conducted every week. PPE and a small snack are provided. About 40 children attend each week.
Goal: Our goal is to keep families informed so that they follow all protocols (hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a mask) to stay safe from COVID.
Impact of Program activities: As a result of attendance in COVID education workshops, children have better knowledge about COVID prevention and the importance of using masks and frequent handwashing. Stories of two children given below highlight the effectiveness of these educational workshops.
Claire (name changed) is a 12-year-old who tested positive (her parents are positive) when she was three years old. She has been on ARV medication for the past few years. Before she started medication, she complained of diarrhea, cough, rash, and fever. After she started ARV’s her health started improving, was attending school but did not like it much. Caire has been participating enthusiastically in “Safe Park” games and workshops for the past two years. She enjoys interacting with other children, playing games, and learning about COVID prevention. With regular participation, she knows how to prevent COVID, her mental health has improved, and her self-esteem is better. She is a fourth grader and likes school.
Nancy (name changed) is a bright 14-year-old, studying in grade 10. She is enrolled in “Safe Park” and in our pediatric HIV care programs. Prior to enrolling in “Safe Park”, she had several questions and doubts about her HIV positive status (her parents are living with HIV). In her own words, “ I was adhering well to treatment, but I never wanted people around as I felt there was no need to live because I had already been given a death sentence’’. Participation in HIV workshops and interacting with other children (both positive and negative) helped her adjust to her positive status. She says, “Safe Park has made me feel free and know am not the only one in this situation”. She is now better adjusted to her status, knows how to prevent COVID, and likes interacting with peers.
Program activities help several hundred children like Claire, and Nancy to improve in physical and mental health, learn about HIV and COVID, and are better adjusted to their difficult circumstances.
Thanks for keeping children and families safe from COVID.