"This small thing we do has such an effect on the children. It's the crowning glory of your work"
"I want to mean more to refugee children. Offer them a safe haven," says Nathalie. After completing her studies in pedagogy and anthropology, she immediately signed up as a TeamUp facilitator. In this capacity, she facilitates the weekly play and movement activities for refugee children. These activities ensure that children learn to deal with feelings such as stress, fear and anger.
As a TeamUp facilitator, Nathalie gets a glimpse into life at an asylum seekers' centre. She sees first hand how difficult this is for children, but also how well they deal with frightening and precarious situations. "Children are really flexible. In spite of all the trauma they’ve been through, they have amazing resilience". The TeamUp activities help reinforce this resilience, as well as teach the children new behaviour skills.
Nathalie supervises the activities with five other facilitators. They form a close-knit team. "Every week we eat together and prepare the session.” During a session those extra pairs of hands and eyes are very useful. "We also have a signalling role", continues Nathalie. "If a child shows worrying behaviour, for example if they are extremely angry or very withdrawn, we refer them to specialised care. This is what the facilitators learn in the two-day TeamUp Start-Up training.
Activities with a goal
"Some children find it difficult to express emotions and take the lead in games," explains Nathalie. The activities have been adapted to this. Each activity is linked to a psychosocial theme, such as anger, friendship and bullying. Behavioural skills, such as helping the other person, setting limits and taking a time-out hang under these themes. In a playful way, children learn skills that they can use in their daily lives.
During the sessions, Nathalie sees the children change.
Each activity has a specific goal related to themes such as dealing with anger, stress and interacting with others.
Photo: Michael Jessurun
Crowning glory of the work
By facilitating the activities on a weekly basis, TeamUp offers much needed structure and stability to children who’s lives have been marked by uncertainty, and Nathalie sees how important this is for them. "The most important experience I’ve personally had as a facilitator is when a girl at the asylum seekers' centre trusted me completely. She told me what she likes and dislikes, the things she found difficult, and how important TeamUp is to her". That is the motivation for her to keep going, even after a very long day. "That recognition, that such a small thing we do has so much effect on the children. That's the crowning glory of your work".
If you ask Nathalie, everyone should sign up as a TeamUp facilitator. "Not only for the children, but also for yourself. It helps you develop your own personal skills and gives you a different perspective on life. Everyone should see and do this.”
TeamUp helps to provide children with emotional support and a much-needed sense of stability.
Photo: Michael Jessurun
You can facilitate activities for refugee children just like Nathalie.
TeamUp is looking for new facilitators now. Activities are at 29 locations throughout the Netherlands, so there’s always a location near you.