Child dev’t advocates promote play in health, holistic growth

Published November 19, 2018, 1:10 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Noreen Jazul

The importance of play in a child’s health and holistic development was highlighted during the kick off of the Play Advocacy Week 2018 at The Mind Museum, Saturday.

Advocates from different sectors discussed how play affects a child in different environments and situations.


‘Play and positive discipline’

Lee Nabablit-Aguila, planning officer for Council for Welfare and Children, said play promotes positive or non-violent discipline.

She explained that through play children and parents can create a bond, which in turn promotes non-violent discipline.

“May mga parents, lalo na pag stress di natin napapansin napagbubuntungan natin yung mga kasama natin sa bahay, kadalasan yung mga anak. Pero kung may strong relationship yung parentes and the child, ma re-realize ng aprent na ‘ay di ko napat ginagawa ito, kasi itong bata dapat ninunurture’,” Aguila shared.

“Ang play ay isa sa mga strategies para ma nurture yung relationship [between kids and parents]…it creates harmony,” she added.

The planning officer said that harmony between parents and children leads to proper communication and prevention of abuses, humiliation against children.

‘Overcoming fear through play’

Play helps children overcome fear, whether it may be from a traumatic experience or a simple fright of needles in hospitals — this has been proven by the people of Kythe Foundation and World Vision Philippines.

Geomel Jetonzo, World Vision Philippines’ Technical Program Manager for Education, said play intervention in emergency situations such as disasters help children recover from trauma.

“Play is also a way of healing, [it helps children] become more resilient when disaster comes,” Jetonzo said.

In hospitals, meanwhile, play helps increase compliance among child patients, according to Kythe Foundation’s Executive Director, Ma. Fatima Lorenzo.

Lorenzo said medical play in hospitals helps prepare children for medical procedures.

“Let’s say they’re going to undergo chemo therapy. We have medical play dolls and then we practice putting the tourniquet, syringe, and all that. Psychologically, they are already preparing the procedure, so when it’s that actual procedure there’s less screaming, kicking, spitting, pulling of hair,” said Lorenzo on how they execute medical play in hospitals.

“We do age appropriate positive language in explaining what a CT scan is then we familiarize [the kids] of everything that they will see, hear, feel, touch, even smell. That’s how play plays a very important role for children in hospitals,” she added.

Lorenzo added that making hospitals a friendly place for children since it lessens anxiety among child patients which in turn leads to higher compliance.

Bambi Manosa-Tanjutco of Tukod Foundation, echoed Lorenzo’s statement, stating the importance of creating child-friendly spaces in institutions.

“Our advocacy is all about creating spaces for children that will uplift their spirit. Spaces for kids are very important. Sometimes even decoration, you have to be careful what you put as decoration kasi minsan, too much stimulation,” she stated.

‘Play and friendships’

Maribel Garcia, Curator of The Mind Museum, said when a child plays they release a hormone called Oxytocin which “help form friendships”.

“That’s why you get attached with your friends,” said Garcia.

The Mind Museum curator added that play also impacts a child later on in life, especially on dealing with other people.

“Play is the only way you can connect your very primal impulse, anger, fear and all that with your frontal part that does the balancing of problem-solving, emotional regulation and other things,” she explained, adding that play helps a person deal with others.

For Anne Marie Dimalanta, Administrator for A Child’s DREAM Foundation, play creates more than camaraderie among children; it also diminishes the differences between each individual.

“All the kids when you see them play, you don’t even know who’s special, who’s extra special, and the faces, they were glowing. We’ve never seen them so happy. For them, ‘I’m one of everybody, I’m here as a human being, I’m not here as somebody,’ who has a disability. There’s no label, it’s just that we were here to play. the kids feel like I’m one of them I’m not segregated, I’m not isolated, I’m one with all,” she stated.

‘Make play happen’

Play Advocacy Week 2018 is a campaign led by Play It Forward, Unilab Foundation’s their therapeutic play program for children, which runs from November 18 until November 24.

From November 18 – November 24, kids and kids at heart can participate and volunteer in the following activities: Color Run Hero Tour (November 18 – McKinley West, Taguig City); Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA)’s “Tagu-Taguan, Nasaan ang Buwan?” (November 18 to 29, 2018); Doll Making Workshop (Museo Pambata, November 24 and 25, 2018, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm); Role-PLAY (Kidzania, November 18 to 24); PLAY in costume with Star Wars characters (Philippine Orthopedic Center, November 24, 2018) *Exclusively for pediatric patients and their families at the Philippine Orthopedic Center*; and PLAY Sessions (Ronald McDonald’s Bahay Bulilit, November 18 to 24, 2018).

Tukod Foundation, meanwhile, partnered with Gary Valenciano in creating the Awit at Laro album which contains songs about traditional Filipino games interpreted by known Filipino singers. Tukod also installed giant art pieces which feature traditional Filipino games at Ayala Malls-Solenad.

For a full list of activities during the Play Advocacy Week, follow!