TeamUp: Uniting Children Through Movement
April 19, 2022
No Safe Space
Sub-Saharan Africa has been identified as the region with the highest number of wars and conflicts around the world today. At the center of this crisis is South Sudan - where intercommunal violence and resulting displacement has left around 2.5 million people - the majority children - at risk of developing mental health problems.
Robbed of security and moved from place to place, many young people experience feelings of anxiety, fear and sadness. Vulnerable groups - including girls and children with disabilities - are among the worst affected.
In contrast, due to a lack of sufficient resources and specialized staff in the humanitarian community, only a limited number of people can be supported in preventing long term mental health problems
Fear and Isolation
When rebel fighting reached her hometown, 12-year-old Adit’s life changed irreversibly.
Adit: “Because of the war, we had to run. The rebels came and stole all our things.”
Losing her father to a landmine explosion, and with her oldest brother in prison, Adit had few people to rely on. On top of that, she is living with a disability following an accident at home.
Arriving in a new place, she struggled to settle in and was bullied at school. “The other children would call me “one leg””, she says. “I would fight with them and I felt lonely.”
Adit's face is always beaming during TeamUp sessions
Teaming Up for Children in War
Despite her experiences, it’s clear from the moment you meet Adit that she possesses an inner strength. Children are extremely resilient - but they need the chance to process their experiences.
This is the premise that our psychosocial support intervention, TeamUp was founded upon. Inspiring partners around the globe, this movement-based method is now being readied for scaling across Sub-Saharan Africa.
In South Sudan, we tested the method among 8000 children – together with our partners - Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages and Help a Child. This pilot was designed to test the effectiveness of TeamUp as well as the tools we’re using to scale it - ensuring we can maintain quality as the intervention expands.
Movement and friendship are essential for a child's physical and psychosocial well-being.
TeamUp fosters inclusion.
Friendship and Respect
What actually is TeamUp?
Through structured movement-based activities - such as sports and dance - children are invited to express themselves and let go of tension in a safe space. Led by trained facilitators, each activity has a specific goal related to a theme such as dealing with anger or stress and interacting with peers.
Sounds simple, right? But, in fact, every inch of this method has been carefully thought through by our team of experts. For example, we communicate through play and movement, rather than verbal cues, so that all children can participate even if they don’t share a common language.
For Adit, this has been a big change. “After school, I join TeamUp. Together we play and I make new friends.”
“It’s good to have friends because they can help you with your problems. Now, the other children respect me.”