How to talk to your kids about Syria, by Sarah Williams, Child Psychologist

Sarah Williams is a child psychologist at Refugees As Survivors (RASNZ). She is currently working with the Syrian children and families arriving in New Zealand who seek the support of RASNZ during their 6-week orientation at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.

World Vision spoke to Sarah about how to speak to Kiwi children about the crisis in Syria and about refugees, and about the new Kiwis arriving here from the Middle East. 

1. Speak honestly, but use language they understand

Firstly, ask your child what they know about the situation. Listen to how they are making sense of what they know or what they have seen in the media.

Any discussion with children needs to be adjusted for age and level of understanding but it also needs to be honest. Children trust their parents to help them understand what happens in the world around them.

With younger children use situations they might understand – leaving one’s home, leaving possessions behind, fleeing without saying goodbye, feeling scared, trying to find a safe place. Talk to them about people in Syria needing to quickly leave their home and travel to another country to be safe due to the war.

With older children we can talk about what it means to be a refugee, the complexity of the Syrian situation, persecution, and the difficult journey to seek refuge in another country.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

https://www.worldvision.org.nz/news-blog/blogs-2017/may/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-syria

Advertisements

40+ Children’s Books about Human Rights & Social Justice, by Monisha Bajaj

download

Young people have an innate sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair.  Explaining the basics of human rights in age appropriate ways with stories and examples can set the foundation for a lifelong commitment to social responsibility and global citizenship.

As a parent to a preschooler and a professor of peace and human rights education, here are my top picks for children’s books that discuss important issues—and that are visually beautiful. Some of the books listed offer an overview of rights; the majority show individuals and organizations past and present who have struggled to overcome injustices. All offer different levels of child-friendly images, concepts and text.

montessori-quote

With my son who is 3, sometimes we will skip certain passages or pages, but introducing him to books like the ones listed below that include characters of different races, religions, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, and other backgrounds at an early age will hopefully lay the foundation for deeper engagement with these texts and issues later on. Lately, he has been making tea in his play kitchen for Martin Luther King Jr. and the other day asked about Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren.

Some of these books are on our shelf at home, others we have found at the library or at friends’ houses.

What’s on your list of go-to books for talking about human rights and social justice issues with your children? Let’s keep the list growing in the comments section below!

**These books should be easily searchable, and I’ve created a book list on Amazon.com atthis link with all the books mentioned in this post.

The Right to Equality & Peace

1. We are all Born Free by Amnesty International

About the basics of human dignity as elaborated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

2. Whoever you Are by Mem Fox

About the common humanity we all share regardless of race, color, religion, nationality, gender, ability or sexual orientation

3. Can you Say Peace?  By Karen Katz

A book about how peace looks in different countries around the world and a celebration of September 21 – the date the United Nations has declared the International Day of Peace

4. A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

A colorful board book with an introduction to speaking up and acting for social change whether related to LGBTQ rights, racial justice, or sustainability.

The Right to Education

5. Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

About the landmark 1947 case fought by a Latino family to desegregate whites-only schools in California that served as a precursor to the Brown vs. Board decision in 1954.

6. Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery by Jeanette Winter

About two young advocates for educational rights who were both attacked in Pakistan—Malala Yousafzai and the lesser-known Iqbal Masih. While Iqbal didn’t survive the attack on him, Malala went on to advocate for the right to education for girls worldwide and win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

7. The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles

About a young woman at the forefront of school desegregation in 1960 after the Brown vs. Board. The book shows her fortitude in enduring harassment from angry mobs to get a quality education.

8. Waiting for BiblioBurro by Monica Brown (author) and John Parra (illustrator)

Inspired by the real-life story of Luis Soriano, who started a mobile library with donkeys carrying hundreds of books over long distances for children in rural areas of Colombia.

The Right to Migrate and Seek Asylum

9. Mama’s Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat (author) and Leslie Staub (illustrator)

Written by award-winning Haitian-American novelist, Edwidge Danticat, this book is about a family separated by the U.S. immigration system and how love transcends borders and orders of deportation.

10. Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh

Young Pancho the Rabbit misses his father who has gone north and sets out to find him, but encounters a coyote whose help comes at a high cost. This book introduces the hardships that thousands of migrant families face.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.niahouse.org/blog-fulton/2016/11/3/40-childrens-books-about-human-rights-social-justice

October 11th: International Day of the Girl Child (from the United Nations)

On 22 April 2015, children in classroom at the opening of a new education centre for Syrian children in Kahramanmaras. The UNICEF-supported education centre was built in partnership with the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Ministry of National Education, with financial support from the European Commission.

On 22 April 2015, children in classroom at the opening of a new education centre for Syrian children in Kahramanmaras. The UNICEF-supported education centre was built in partnership with the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Ministry of National Education, with financial support from the European Commission.

The world’s 1.1 billion girls are part of a large and vibrant global generation poised to take on the future. Yet the ambition for gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the preponderance of disadvantage and discrimination borne by girls everywhere on a daily basis. Only through explicit focus on collecting and analyzing girl-focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data, and using these data to inform key policy and program decisions, can we adequately measure and understand the opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems.

(To read more, please follow the link below…)

http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/

Being Left Out Hurts: Moms, Stop ‘Social Engineering’, by Lisa Barr

LO

I heard a disturbing story recently from a friend, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It went something like this … the camp buses were leaving for an overnight camp in the Midwest, and one Mom somehow had access to get on one of the buses before departure. She literally managed to rope off (save) an entire section for eight 11-year-old girls. She stayed on the bus while the “Chosen 8” boarded and sat in their “designated” seats. Another girl, a new camper, got on the bus, who was the same age, and asked if she could join “those” girls. The Mom responded: “I’m sorry, but it’s reserved” and then she got off.

The clique had been formed and there was no room for “intruders.” (I’ll get to that Mom a little later…)

The new girl, let’s call her Sarah, had been given three simultaneous messages: 1. You are not invited. 2. You are not good enough. 3. This is “The Group” — and you are not part of it, so don’t even try.

One of the main reasons I started my blog GIRLilla Warfare ( www.girlillawarfare.com) was because of the overabundance of Middle School war stories that I had been hearing from so many moms. Same story, different players. And I hate to say this, but the root of this particular social evil, is usually (sadly) initiated by a group of Moms. One of our GW writers pointed out in another blog, that those Moms decide who is IN and who is OUT. It is political, and it is what we at GIRLilla Warfare call “Suburban Social Engineering” which ends up causing many children deep, unnecessary pain.

Don’t get me wrong. Many kids choose to be with whom they feel most comfortable, and that’s totally acceptable. It’s the piece in which the Moms not only helicopter but also patrol kids’ potential friendships that I’m focusing on here.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

Love First: parenting to reduce racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of hate, by Sarah McLaughlin

smile-kid

it is hard to parent this week.

It’s hard to focus. Difficult to not check my phone for updates and news conferences. Tricky to keep from crying and being otherwise emotionally snarled. It is so hard to stay relaxed about our world and what the future may look like for our children when the news looks like this. This crazy election cycle, the Stanford rapist horror, and now, the deadliest civilian mass shooting in U.S. history.

It’s hard to take. Really hard. I’m tired, and very sad.

I often feel powerless in these situations, but I also I don’t want to do nothing. So I’m going to give blood this week, send money to my local LGBTQ rights organization, write this article, and vote in November no matter how bad things look.

Because I’m also angry. So angry.

But instead of ranting, I’m going to look through my parent education lens and I wonder, “How can parenting differently help?” Well, it seems it always can. It seems no matter what problem sits before me, I can find a way to help through parenting. I try to think of a way to “love first” when it comes to raising children. With that positive action in mind, here are five ways you can parent against misogyny and hate:

  1. Watch for your own prejudices. Talk to your children about privilege and power imbalances. Don’t assume a heteronormative or ethnocentric stance. Talk about race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. When you speak about whiteness, the gender binary, and heterosexuality as if they exist in a vacuum and are “the norm,” (or ignore them completely which sends the exact same message), you perpetuate dichotomy and implicit bias. This leads to seeing differences as “other,” which diminishes people’s value and humanity.
  1. Parent against gender bias. This is still much more socially acceptable for girls than boys. That’s why I wrote about changing the culture of masculinity, and can’t wait to watch this important documentary: The Mask We Live In. Our culture’s gender norms hurt children. In her important book, The Mama’s Boy Myth, Kate Stone Lombardi notes that a growing tide of modern mothers are helping their sons to be stronger by keeping them close and helping them gain important EQ (Emotional Intelligence) skills. These are skills we ALL need to get along with each other.
  1. Model good boundaries. When we set firm limits with children, we’re demonstrating what boundaries should look like. When we respect small growing people, we lay the foundation for consent. When we are clear about where we end and they begin, and allow emotional expression, we help them understand that their strong, messy feelings are A-OK with us. Closeness and intimacy does not necessitate emotional merging and they are not responsible for our feelings.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.handinhandparenting.org/2016/06/love-first-parenting-to-reduce-racism-sexism-homophobia-and-other-forms-of-hate/

Yay for Barbie’s New Looks! By Mary Bowerman and Hadley Malcolm

Barbie

Barbie may now look a bit more like the rest of us, curves and all.

Mattel, the maker of Barbie, announced Thursday the iconic doll will now come in three new body types and a variety of skin tones and hairstyles. This is the first time the doll will be available in body types beyond its original stick-thin frame.

Mattel has been putting Barbie through a transformation for the past two years to bring the doll in line with realistic body standards and reflect the diversity of the kids playing with the dolls. Last year Mattel introduced 23 new dolls with different skin tones, hairstyles, outfits and flat feet, rather than the perpetually pointy ones meant to fit into sky-high heels.

This year’s dolls will be available in tall, petite and curvy body types. Online sales start Thursday on Barbie.com and dolls will start hitting stores March 1, with a total of 33 new dolls being rolled out by the end of the year.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2016/01/28/barbies-new-shapes-tall-petite-and-curvy/79449784/

 

“Like a Girl”: how one company decided to break down the limitations society imposes on girls, resulting in a video which went viral…

Always & FY

By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

Do we limit girls and tell them what they should or shouldn’t be?   Do we box them into expected roles?

A logo for the US feminine hygiene company "Always".

A logo for the US feminine hygiene company “Always”.

“Always”, a feminine hygiene company in the USA promotes education about the menstrual cycle and fields questions from girls and young women related to this.  In 2014 “Always” created an ad campaign designed to, of course, promote their products, but also to break down the barriers of the limitations society imposes on girls.  The company did this by asking a range of girls and young women, of varying ages and ethnic backgrounds, whether they felt limited by society’s expectations and stereotypes of girls and women and if so, how.

The answer was shocking: 72% of girls said they DO feel society limits them – especially during puberty – a time when their confidence totally plummets. “Always” decided to begin what they call an “epic battle” to keep girls’ confidence high during puberty and beyond.

The original #LikeAGirl social experiment by “Always” started a conversation to boost confidence by changing the meaning of “like a girl” from an insult to a compliment.  That conversation turned into major movement sweeping the globe.  Interestingly, boys as well as girls, became interested in the campaign and agreed that many of these stereotypes, as well as others about boys and men, were damaging.  One of the original “Always” ads can be viewed here:

Following on from this, “Always” sought to empower girls everywhere by encouraging them to smash limitations and be Unstoppable #LikeAGirl. 

Always say that, “For more than three decades, we’ve made it our mission to empower young girls worldwide by educating millions of them about puberty and their cycle, so they can feel confident – any day of the month. Together, we’re making great change happen.”

Watching the videos created for this campaign is a great way of encouraging discussion among children and young people about gender stereotypes and gender roles, expectations and socially imposed limitations… a great one to share, to strengthen our daughters in their “Forever Years”.

Find out more at http://always.com/en-us/about-us/our-…
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/always
Twitter – http://twitter.com/Always

download (3)

Related Links:

http://www.people.com/article/like-a-girl-always-ad-unstoppable

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11716710/LikeAGirl-Unstoppable-Always-video-Girls-feel-pressure-to-be-girly.html

http://www.buzzfeed.com/laurasilver/smashing-the-patriarchy-like-a-girl#.cgGV61emAd

Educator Torrie Dunlap believes that we look at kids with disabilities the wrong way… an inspiring TED talk, forward by Hailey Reissman

Torrie

Educator Torrie Dunlap believes that we look at kids with disabilities the wrong way. By calling their needs “special” and pushing them into “special” schools, groups and activities, we segregate them, sending a message that if you have a disability, you aren’t welcome to participate in “regular” activities.

What we really need to do, she suggests, is question why our “regular” activities aren’t designed to accommodate kids of all abilities, why “regular” is discriminatory to those with disabilities.

“I believe that a reason why, as a society, we have not embraced children with disabilities as full participants in our schools and communities is the limitation of our own mental models around disability,” she says in a talk at TEDxAmerica’sFinestCity. “We have moved from hiding and institutionalizing children to a world where kids with disabilities are special and receive special services inspecial settings with special caregivers, and they — and their families– are disenfranchised from the community at large  …

“I believe that ‘special’ has become a euphemism for ‘separate,’” Dunlap says. “When we create a separate, special place for children where their ‘special needs’ can be met, we are teaching them that their place is over there, with people like them and not in the full community.”

These alienating activities range from “special” proms for high schoolers with disabilities to a particularly disturbing example from Dunlap — a night for “Challenged Buckaroos” at a rodeo. “No special adaptations for disability are needed or offered [at the rodeo] that I can tell,” she says, “[so] why do children who have a disability label need their own special rodeo? What message are we sending to kids when we create a separate rodeo just for them?”

The speaker tackles a difficult issue, society’s models of disability and how they affect children, and looks at it from several angles, using evidence culled from years working with children with disabilities. She is passionate about the issue, ties her experience to greater sociological theories of disability and offers a challenge to the audience to think differently about an entrenched idea.

 

See TED talk below:

Why our family sponsor kids through “ChildFund”

HirpaTham CollageBy Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

None of us choose where we are born or what circumstances we are born into.  That’s why for me, sponsoring a child is not just an enriching experience in itself– which it most definitely is– but it is also about redressing the huge disparity that exists within our global family between the “haves” and the “have nots”.  And the “have nots” in our world lack some very basic and fundamental necessities.

Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. That is 8,500 children per day.  That means every 10 seconds, one of our children dies from hunger-related diseases.  (Source: http://thp.org/knowledge-center/know-your-world-facts-about-hunger-poverty/).  And I do view it that “we are all one” and all children are “our children”.  If it is possible then, to make a positive difference in the life of even just one child– a difference which will be carried on into the future, as that child raises his or her own children, as well as a difference which permeates the lives of others in the community surrounding that child, why wouldn’t we?  Wouldn’t we hope for the same kind of assistance in gaining independence and being able to sustain ourselves and our families if the shoe was on the other foot?  ChildFund provides the perfect vehicle for doing this in a way in which promotes independence and ensures that sponsor money goes directly to projects assisting the child in question and his or her community.

Hirpa

Hirpa, age 10 years, who lives in Ethiopia

Tham

Tham, age 5 years, who lives in Vietnam

My husband and I have four children and our goal was always to sponsor four kids of similar ages to ours, in four different parts of the world.  When our eldest son, now nearly ten, was born, we began sponsoring Hirpa, a boy the same age who lives in Ethiopia.  We then found that our finances would not stretch to sponsoring three more children, but have instead taken on one more: Tham, a five year old girl in Vietnam.  Sponsoring a child in Vietnam was important to me, as I spent three years living and working there and was treated well by Vietnamese people.  I also learned the Vietnamese language while there, so can communicate with Tham and her family in their mother tongue (although our kids write to her in English, which is translated by ChildFund in Vietnam).

A recent photo of Hirpa (3rd from left) with his mother and siblings.

A recent photo of Hirpa (3rd from left) with his mother and siblings, Ethiopia.

Sponsoring Hirpa and Tham has been a really good experience for our four children here in New Zealand.  We have tried to write to them as regularly as we are able and the kids like to draw pictures for them and ask them about their countries, cultures and families.  Around the world there are commonalities of childhood which transcend the barriers of language, race and distance.  Hirpa has three siblings and likes playing soccer with his friends. Tham paints pictures at her kindergarten (some of which she has sent to us) : these are the kinds of things our children can readily relate to and enjoy doing too.

In part because of my own experiences working abroad and travelling, I believe that forming friendships and links with individuals is important in helping our children become “global citizens” and developing a notion of the world as their “global family”.  Through technology, our world is becoming smaller and smaller.  I believe there are ways in which we can improve our world for future generations.  Instilling our children with a “global view” of life and an understanding of how their peers around the world live, why there are inequalities (both at home and abroad) and the human side of our history and our present is integral to achieving this (as is having faith that such improvement is possible).  Although young, our four children realise, through my stories of experiences overseas and through their contact with Hirpa and Tham, that poverty effects individuals, including kids like themselves.  Hirpa and Tham and their familes are kind of honourary members of our family: whenever we receive new pictures of them we put them up for a while in our lounge and talk about how they are doing.  I believe that this has instilled a level of emotional intelligence and global awareness in our kids.

Tham & Mum FY

A recent photo of Tham, our sponsored child in Vietnam, with her mother.

We enjoy hearing about the special festivals and cultural events in Hirpa and Tham’s lives which are so very different from our own.  Tham’s family are rice farmers, while Hirpa’s herd cattle.  Both children have to take an active part in helping their parents with these occupations.

I remember, some years back, when Hirpa (perhaps age three or so) was really ill and had to be taken to hospital.  His medical care was covered through our sponsorship of him with ChildFund.  My eldest son was most concerned and drew pictures for Hirpa and we prayed for him and his family together.  We often remember Hirpa and Tham in our prayers.  Fortunately, Hirpa came through his illness.

I know there are people out there who don’t agree with the idea of child sponsorship and I honestly can’t understand why.  During my time living in Vietnam, I worked for another child sponsorship organisation, Plan International.  Through this I saw first hand the difference that having a one on one sponsor made to the lives of children in the poorer communities.  Just the psychology behind knowing that someone in a completely different country and culture, who has never met you, is prepared to offer support of this nature has been shown to be a tremendous source of encouragement to sponsored children.  Letters, photographs and gifts received by children are often treasured for a lifetime.  Sometimes a sponsor will visit a child, which always creates great excitement in the whole community.  Putting an individual face to a situation (rather than just a label, such as “poverty in Africa/ Asia”) goes a long way towards making people care.  And, in my experience, when people care enough, good things start happening.

blog1

xdrchan.jpg.pagespeed.ic.5AByOHBhD_A Brief History of ChildFund

ChildFund was founded on October 6, 1938 as China’s Children Fund by an American Presbyterian minister Dr. J. Calvitt Clarke to aid Chinese children displaced by the Second Sino-Japanese War. As the mission expanded to other countries, the name was changed on February 6, 1951 to Christian Children’s Fund.  ChildFund International changed its name in 2009 but ChildFund New Zealand changed its name in 2005.  The name change came about because ChildFund was never a Christian mission organisation and didn’t evangelise. However, because of the name, people wrongly believed that’s what we did. Rather our organisation’s purpose was based on the Christian values of its founder.   A decision was made very early on to not proselytise, so as to be accepted in any community where children needed our help.  [Source: Wikipedia and ChildFund New Zealand].

Why our family likes ChildFund in Particular

There are a number of excellent child sponsorship organisations out there.  We like ChildFund because it is a strong, international organisation which has been assisting children in poverty and their communities for over 75 years.  Sponsoring children in 30 countries and reaching 18.1 million kids and their family members, ChildFund works in places where poverty’ s grasp is strongest.  ChildFund has a history of reliably making sure that the maximum possible amount of sponsor’s funds goes to the children, their families and their communities.

Personally, as a busy Mum with four active children, I like that ChildFund makes it easy for us to sponsor Hirpa in Ethiopia and Tham in Vietnam.  Not only are we sent regular reminders of things like birthdays, but are also given cards to sign and freepost envelopes to return them in, making it easy for us to maintain regular contact with the kids we sponsor, particularly at times when it is important.  I also like that ChildFund send us regular progress reports about how our sponsored children are doing, as well as up to date photos.  This helps maintain the connection from both sides, as well as showing us how the children’s lives are being improved through their sponsorship.  It is easy to call ChildFund at any time, should concerns or questions arise, and I have found them to be efficient, professional and always willing to put the needs of the children first.

Some ideas which might be helpful when sponsoring a child…

Child-Fund-cap*  Try to write to your sponsored child regularly: they LOVE to hear from you.  Letters don’t necessarily need to be long and, as the old saying goes, “a picture speaks a thousand words”: so a brief note and a photograph of you and your family will always be treasured.  People have busy lives, but I’ve found it’s possible to write to our sponsored children 3-4 times a year.  As I’ve said above, ChildFund are great at providing cards and so on to send too.

*  If you feel you can’t afford to sponsor a child, there are other options, such as joining with other families or friends and sharing sponsorship.  Some schools, kindergartens, churches and offices also sponsor kids.  It is good for the sponsor child to know the names of one or two individuals among a group of sponsors and, of course, receive letters and pictures (see above).

*  If you begin sponsoring a child and your circumstances change to a point where you feel you can’t continue, don’t feel bad.  Do explain to your child what is happening and perhaps look for other individuals or groups who might be willing to sponsor him or her.  Having said this, I know a number of people who have continued sponsoring children, despite tough times in their own lives, including some of those who lived through the Christchurch earthquakes: some people find continuing sponsorship in tough times a motivating and strengthening experience– it has to be your call.

*  Some people like to send their sponsored child a gift from time to time.  Gifts needn’t be particularly expensive and Free-Shipping-Gel-Ink-Pen-Neutral-Cartoon-Smoothly-Minions-Stationery-School-Office-Kids-Prize-Gift-24pcslarge, costly items (aside from being expensive to post) can cause jealousy and disharmony within your sponsor child’s family and community.  There are lots of small light-weight items which will be really appreciated by your sponsored child.  These include: t-shirts, shorts, undies, toy cars, hair clips, hair ties, notebooks, pens, stickers, balloons, small soft toys and light weight story or colouring books, coloured pencils or crayons (wax crayons seem to be more durable than oil ones), pens or pencils (if sending any kind of pencil, don’t forget a sharpener and rubber).    Keep in mind your sponsored child’s mother tongue if sending story books.  We have sent some to Tham translated into Vietnamese or you can send very simple ones with more pictures and few words: they will still enjoy looking at them and can write the words in in their own language.  If your sponsored child has siblings (as in the case of Hirpa, the boy we sponsor in Ethipoia) learn their names too and send a small gift for them also.  Items such as hard soap, facecloths, pencil cases, foldable, light cloth bags and toothbrushes also go down well.  Don’t send anything which might melt, leak or break– things such as toothpaste, shampoo, playdough and bubble mixture are best avoided.

Two Short Videos about ChildFund:

 

Related Links:

https://www.childfund.org.nz/

https://www.childfund.org.nz/childfund-history

https://www.childfund.org.au/

http://www.ccfcanada.ca/about-us.html?gclid=CPjq0LjG28UCFQsHvAodX5AAow

https://www.childfund.org/united-states/

http://www.childfund.ie/

http://www.childfund.or.jp/other/english.html