The Body Shop Sri Lanka partnered with The Little Gym of Colombo to bring some Christmas joy and cheer to 25 young children and their caregivers. The evening of activities held on 14 December at The Little Gym gymnastics centre in Colombo 2 was attended by children from Shanthi Maargam and the Voice Foundation.
The children had an activity-filled evening at The Little Gym (TLG), with Director and CEO Shilpa Perera warmly welcoming them. The instructors at TLG spent a fun hour teaching the kids gymnastic skills, and touching upon the importance of being a good citizen as a child, especially when it comes to sharing and taking turns. The enrichment and physical development centre for children aged 4 months to 12 years uses movement based learning and imaginative play to build confidence and skills in children.
The gymnastics was followed by a drama session by Power of Play’s SulochanaDissanayake where she touched upon respect and kindness through singing, dancing and storytelling using puppets as a medium.
In addition to the activities for the children, the event included a self-care workshop for caregivers of children at orphanages and day centres conducted by Tehani Chitty and Seema Omar. The group comprised of 10 caregivers, who participated in carefully crafted sessions that focused on experiential and partnering exercises, establishing trust, curiosity and empathy. “Our aim was to share the importance of self-care and a couple of ways to practice that self-care,” noted Seema Omar. “We also wanted to appreciate the importance of the work they were doing.”
The partnering exercise saw each caregiver share with another what drew them to this work and the joy they find in their role. From here on they also identified the challenges faced in their line of work, role-playing these challenges to understand them better. Through the role playing the group identified the issue of blocked trust over a period of time-touching upon how the brains of children in foster care are trapped in fear, resulting in an inability to trust. When caregivers are faced with blocked trust over a period of time, the most well-meaning caregiver can succumb to the phenomenon of ‘blocked care’.
Drawing information from Dan Hughes’ extensive work on children in foster care, in particular a YouTube lecture entitled ‘The Child Who Mistrusts Good Care’, Seema and Tehani gave a brief introduction to PACE as the antidote to blocked trust and care. ‘PACE’ refers to Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy. “We did not have time to talk in depth about PACE but we hope that this will be the beginning of a much-needed support group for these carers. This first session was very successful, but to have a real impact the learning should be continuous. In that light, we have offered to make ourselves available to continue these meetings once every quarter,” shared Tehani.
The Body Shop’s Colombo community service projects this year are complementary to its global Play for Peace campaign, an initiative that allows customers to help refugee children when they buy seasonal gifts from The Body Shop. This campaign is conducted by The Body Shop in partnership with peace building NGO International Alert, and supports refugee children by using recreational and creative activities to help them deal with trauma and understand their experience of conflict. Each gift purchased from The Body Shop’s seasonal gift collections will help to support the project for one year in the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon.