Children

Korean taekwondo masters teach refugee children compassion and discipline

Children at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan are learning the art of Taekwondo, thanks to a team of passionate Korean trainers who are teaching the sport as a means of instilling discipline and self-respect in kids who have faced trauma in their lifetime.

Charles Lee, who has lived in Jordan for over 10 years working as an acupuncturist, believes in the power of taekwondo in fostering the development of the refugee children, many of whom do not attend school or have any sort of mentor to guide them.

“I want to teach them to have more sportsmanship and to change how they think. I want them to be peaceful and to help their neighbors and communities,” -Lee, the founder of Zaatari Taekwondo Academy, told the Times of Israel.

The taekwondo program took off with the support of UN relief agencies. Lee also trained adult refugees, many of them sports coaches, so that they could run classes themselves and reach more children through the program.

According to Lee, the child refugees are often prone to violence, having grown up around it majority of their lives. Their favorite “game” to play is throwing stones at each other.

From the taekwondo classes, the trainers are seeing remarkable growth in the children.

“It has changed the character of the boys. They rely on themselves now, and the girls have stronger personalities,” - Mohammad Rashid, a physical education teacher, told AJ+.

“Taekwondo is what I like the most here,” said a Syrian girl. “Because I can defend myself, get to learn many things and care about my friends. I really like training a lot.”

Nine-year-old runs library for children in slums of India

Photo Credits:   Pratham Books

Photo Credits: Pratham Books

Muskaan Ahirwar just might be the youngest librarian in the world: this nine-year-old girl, who lives in a slum in Bhopal, runs a library for children just outside her house.

When the state’s education center realized that children lacked interest in and access to books outside of school, they decided to do something to promote reading in the slum area. The education center held a quiz to create interest among the children, and Muskaan’s high score and enthusiasm impressed all the members of the center. They asked her for ideas on how they could educate the children living in the slum, and from then on, Muskaan’s library idea was born.

"I love doing this. Other children in slum area take books and then return other day. Some stay back to read here with me and ask questions where they don't understand," Muskaan told Times of India.

The library now has over 700 books donated from elsewhere in India and overseas, and has become a popular hangout spot for the children.

“Once I started the library, children who used to roam around have found new interest in reading and come regularly,” Muskaan told AJ+.

Children also play trivia games and have discussions about the books they’ve read at the library.

“Whoever has the drive to learn, they should start their own library and start learning, and study like us and get ahead in life,” Muskaan said.

 

Photo Credits: Pratham Books

Children affected by autism spectrum disorders find solace at Toys R Us’s “quiet hour”

To kids affected by autism spectrum disorders, bright lights and loud noises can be painfully overwhelming. That’s why multinational chain retailer Toys R Us’s newly introduced “quiet hours” are making a huge difference to these children and their families.

In November, Toys R Us stores across the UK piloted an effort to open one hour earlier as part of a pre-Christmas event. Lights dimmed, music was switched off and announcements were withheld for the event, allowing customers to browse toys in a calm environment.

“Making slight adjustments to stores and creating a ‘quiet’ shopping period allows children and young adults to experience the fun in a toy shop regardless of their disability,” the chain’s marketing director said.

The one-off initiative was well-received by the community and many are calling for this to be done more regularly.

One mother of an autistic child said on Facebook that the event was “brilliant”, and she “had no idea what a difference low-lighting could make”. Another remarked a “complete change in behavior” of her son and thanked the retailer for their inclusivity.

Toys R Us is not the first to head such an event. UK supermarket giant Asda in Manchester Fort began a “quiet hours” initiative for shoppers affected by autism, and inspired eight other outlets to do the same. Toys R Us stores in America, where the retailer is based, is also looking into this.

Launching a “quiet hours” initiative costs little to shops, but simply lowering noise and turning down the lights can make a world of a difference to shoppers affected by autism. Toys R Us’s efforts are a start, and we hope to see more stores around the world doing the same.

Skateboarding: Learning through Play

“Skateboarding is very special to me. I love it because I feel like flying, like a bird,” says 12-year- old Freshta, who lives in Kabul, Afghanistan. “It gives me the feeling of freedom!”

Skateistan is an NGO that works with low-income youth like Freshta in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa, providing them education and leadership training alongside skateboarding instruction. More than 1,500 youth aged 5-17 benefit from Skateistan’s programs weekly.

Freshta was enrolled in Skateistan’s “skate school” as part of the NGO’s “Back to School” program. The program takes in children who do not have access to school, guides them through an accelerated learning program and then helps them register into the public schooling system.

Skateistan’s unique approach to youth empowerment has seen great success in inspiring children to learn through play. In many developing countries, safe spaces for children are few and far between. Children – especially girls like Freshta – are rarely given the chance to engage in sports, so Skateistan’s work is significant in empowering them and encouraging them to be active.

Now, Freshta is successfully enrolled as a grade seven student at public school and aspires to be a doctor when she grows up. She continues to engage in Skateistan’s other programs, “Skate and Crate”, which combines art lessons with skateboarding sessions, and “Youth Leadership”, where students are taught how to be forward-thinking global citizens.

One 12-year old, 400 teddy bears, and a million hearts to explode from warm and fuzzies.

- Photo Credit: Project 365 Campbell

12-year-old Campbell is no ordinary kid. When he was nine, he asked Mom and Dad if he could buy Christmas presents for all the children in a hospital, and they told him it would cost too much – so he taught himself how to make teddy bears and gave them all away.

“I have set myself to have 365 gifts made by me to take to hospitals, charities and distribution points by next Christmas to give to children at Christmas time. I will make more than this if I can and take them to places for kids birthday presents if they are in hospital for their birthdays,” writes Campbell on his Facebook page.

Since then, the Australian boy has made over 400 teddies for children in need. Besides his goal of making 365 teddy bears a year, Campbell also makes special bears for fundraising auctions and takes custom requests. His bears have helped raise money for victims of domestic violence, comforted sick children on ambulances and inspired hundreds with his kindness.

Campbell’s Facebook page is filled with comments of people thanking him for his generosity and encouraging them to take up craft projects as a way to give back to the community.

In the words of Julia, who left a nice comment on Campbell’s website after his hospitalized son received one of Campbell’s bears, we hope everyone can take a piece of Campbell’s message and pay it forward.

Of Meditation and Mindful Mondays

Happy Mindful Monday! A school Baltimore is listening to the science, and replacing detention with meditation. And the results you may ask? Well, they’re incredible.

The @holisticlifefoundation is an NGO committed to nurturing the wellness of children and adults in underserved communities and they’re taking these practices into school such as the Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore to change mindsets and behavior in quiet, yet nonetheless big, ways. Kids are encouraged to sit in an untraditional “detention” room where they are encouraged to practice breathing exercises, meditation, and also talk through their experience.

In the August 2016 issue of Oprah Magazine, Holistic Life Foundation co-founder Andres Gonzalez said: “We’ve had parents tell us, ‘I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, “Hey, Mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe.” Amazing, eh?

P.S.We love how mindfulness shaking things up by slowing things down. Intrigued by the power of mindfulness in your own life and want to try a taste? The app Headspace is making waves with 3 million users in over 150 countries. Our Givo team loves them!

This photo is credited to the incredible@holisticlifefoundation. Like what they do? Check them out! Like what you’re reading? Follow Givo link in bio for more stories like these.