Who attends "Safe Park"?
Power of Love’s “Safe Park” program is free and open to all children in the community of Matero, in Lusaka, Zambia. Most children in this community are vulnerable due to several reasons; they may have lost one or both parents, they live with extended families (grandmothers, aunts, or older siblings) and face hunger, disease, abuse and neglect. As a result, they need counseling, and their families’ need information and counselling.
How Does “Safe Park” Help Community Residents?
Trained health care staff work with children who participate in educational games and activities organized by our team on Saturday mornings. Social workers provide psycho-social support to children of all ages in an environment which facilitates activities, and educational discussions. These interactions benefit the children’s physical, social, and emotional development and overall health. In addition, staff members observe the children while they are playing and encourage them to interact freely and work hard at school. If a child exhibits abnormal or aggressive behavior, or complains about abuse, a staff member visits the child in his/her home, counsels the family, and provides information about other agencies that can provide additional support. “Safe Park” activities keep children off the streets where they could be abused.
Given below is a summary of activities for children.
- For all children: Zambian games and free play, homework help, psycho-social counseling as needed, a small snack.
- Younger children: Drawing as this helps the children express their feelings, coloring, playing with blocks and toys.
- For older children: Education on HIV, safe sex and STI's, encouraged to mentor younger children, lead workshops on HIV.
- For family members: Counseling as needed, home visits in case of suspected abuse, information on agencies that can be of assistance to the family.
Impact of "Safe Park"
Children learn about HIV prevention, get help with schoolwork, and their families are referred to government clinics for counseling and testing for HIV, TB and cervical cancer. In addition, the children are happier as they get an opportunity to play, interact freely with other children, and mentor younger children. All program activities are designed to help the children learn life skills and to provide critical information (location of clinics for counseling) to family members. The result is a stronger and well-informed family and community.