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  • Sisanda FunDaytion team

Promoting Play for Mental Health

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

Our October highlight...well, talking more about play of course…..Where you ask??... 13th annual Jelly Beanz Child Trauma Conference funded by UNICEF. Together with three hundred teachers, social workers, psychologists, Occupational Therapists and other community-based organisations from South Africa and our neighbours, we found ourselves at Lagoon Beach Hotel for 2 jampacked days of learning, connecting, feeling and creating.

Horrifying stories and stats shared from various presenters shone a spotlight on the dangerous surge of mental distress in South Africa and the impact this is having on the lives of our younger citizens. Intensifying this was the reminder from The South African Child Gauge 2021/2022 (an annual publication of the Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town, that tracks progress for South Africa’s children) that 50% of mental health problems in adults start prior to age 14 and 75% by age 24. Emphasising the critical need for early prevention and intervention in this mental health crisis, an intergenerational approach was recommended.

The Child Gauge reinforced that children and their family’s mental health and well-being are interdependent and have an intergenerational impact on future generations. As a natural link to this we were very pleased to present our Play@Home programme as a practical approach to building relationships and resilience in families.

Our model: A scalable, intergenerational, peer driven play programme was well received with audience members recognising its potential for promoting well-being and building trusting relationships in the family and community network. Building Play Ambassadors was also acknowledged for it’s focus on a neglected age group by helping Young people have purpose at the same time as uplifting their own mental health ….through PLAY.

Play is the perfect tool to strengthen relationships, to create a sense of trust and belonging and to build resilience. Play makes everyone feel better in the moment - there is no better way to reduce stress and to recharge our batteries than through playful moments. Our Play Ambassadors energetically helped Jelly Beanz to lighten the overall experience of this conference with it’s heavy and sobering topics. The international Play Based Healing Summit coming at the end of Oct will for the first time bring global experts together to show the growing body of evidence for the vital role PLAY has in well-being and in working through trauma and promoting healing of individuals and societies.

Many of us have forgotten how to play, or don’t truly understand the gifts held within these moments of joy. Our mission is to change the mindset that Play is the Opposite of Work. This is untrue. The truth is Play is the Opposite of Depression. Read this wonderful blog from Heartfelt which helps us to understand this.

Changing mindsets takes feeling something different….we got to help 300 people at the conference feel the joy of Play with our Sisanda Squeezy Hug. The response was amazing, the smiles and

connections created reminded us that we all need a little hug sometimes – and learning how to help ourselves to feel better and to connect with others are amongst the greatest tools we can have. Click Here to check out our hug

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