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New Policy Brief: Play and Psychosocial Wellbeing

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For too many children, crisis is the new normal.

Climate-related disasters, conflict, and forced displacement, put a heavy emotional burden on children and their families. These stressors can inhibit brain development and a child’s ability to learn, and limit their future.

Play, one of the most transformative forces in a child’s life, is one of the most effective ways to support children’s psychosocial wellbeing. In a new policy brief, Promoting Psychosocial Wellbeing Through the Power of Play, we spotlight recent research that shows how play helps children develop, learn, and cope with challenging situations. We also share case studies of how play-based psychosocial programs support children to feel renewed agency, connection, self-confidence, and belonging, and recommendations for investments in this critical area of child protection and support.

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Promoting Psychosocial Wellbeing Through Play

Advances in neuroscience confirm what educators have known for decades: that providing a foundation of psychosocial support is critical to wellbeing and learning.

For more than 20 years, Right To Play has delivered programs in development and humanitarian contexts that harness play to support children’s education and wellbeing. Right To Play provides parents, teachers, coaches, and community members with the tools and knowledge they need to support children through adverse events. Through different types of play, including sports, arts, games, and music, children are better able to cope with fear, stress and anxiety, and unlock their creativity and joy. With space to process their experiences and manage their emotions, children are able to learn and thrive.

Psychosocial support is critical for children’s wellbeing and learning. And yet, it continues to be one of the most underfunded and overlooked areas of humanitarian assistance.

The Promoting Psychosocial Wellbeing Through the Power of Play brief provides recommendations for how donors and national and host country governments can increase their impact in education by investing in psychosocial support through play, including in emergency situations.

This policy brief is one of part of our commitment to make sure all children can claim their right to education, wellbeing – and play.