Play in uncertain times
2020 has started for many with a lot of uncertainty, as the coronavirus impacts here in Asia travel is curtailed, extra- curricular activities are cancelled and large social gatherings postponed. Masks can be seen everywhere and no-one really knows what is going to happen. This comes on the back of the Taal Volcano in the Philippines which has directly affected the work of CreateCATT as our Philippines project KTLC is in the evacuation zone and our friends and colleagues there have had to leave their homes as ash rained down on the town. The Volcano continues to rumble and no-one knows if it will erupt or go back to sleep. And then in Australia there have been the devastating bush fires. For many the start of this year has been a time of loss, a time of waiting, a time of anxiety. A year that has started with an overriding sense of not being in control of the world around us.
For adults and children alike not feeling in control is anxiety provoking and not an enjoyable experience. It raises many questions about the state of the world, what really matters and what is going to happen. For many of us waiting and not knowing is difficult and as we can no longer fill our lives with activity as they are curtailed by plague, pestilence and travel restrictions what do we do? Technology provides an easy outlet and keeps us connected - at times fuelling our anxiety more as there is so much bad news- but also allowing us to study remotely, keep in touch with friends, bringing us games and entertainment into our homes.
Living through these times here in Asia I am reminded of the the SARS epidemic and how it was a time to stay with family, to play outdoors with my children who could not go to school and to avoid public spaces, which significantly curbed our consumerism. We went back to more simple pleasures, the importance of relationships, the beauty of open natural spaces, the joys of play. At CreateCATT we know the power of play and positive relationships to build human resilience, they are the foundation of all wellbeing and learning and as Peter Gray mentions in his Ted Talk " The Decline of Play" it is through play that children feel in control of their world, they gain an inner locus of control as he puts it and that helps them keep anxiety at bay. This is a time when we all need to play together.
In Batangas, the Philippines, the schools were closed, the children restless and the families anxious as they waited and wondered which way the volcano will go. Last week the team at KTLC were running free Developmental Play workshops for all the children from the centre and the local community, giving them a chance to create, play, move and learn and feel that inner sense of joy that play can bring - against all the odds. This is how the children will build resilience and counterbalance the floods of cortisone in the brain that natural disasters cause us to experience. We ALL need playfulness in these uncertain days.