What does play means for these children?

The sun shines this Sunday and around 50 boys and girls play in a soccer field. Small groups guided by a monitor perform different games, laughter and happy faces surround us. We ask some of the children: What are you up to? Their immediate answer is: we are learning!

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Students from ‘Mejillones’ middle school

This is a new method applied by Local partner ‘Renovación Madre Niño’ and other three Organizations in Oruro. It is called JuGAR, (PLAY in Spanish) focused on the development of physical and social abilities with children and teenagers. We had the chance to talk with Osmar Ramirez, a Youth club staff person in Oruro about it.

“While children play, they strengthen other abilities: leadership, self-esteem, teamwork, communication, conflict management… the list is long, but they have fun and learn about these important abilities” he tells us. “We identified that children live with different types of violence at home, in the school and their neighborhoods. We want to teach them about it and how to prevent these problems, how to talk about their Rights and live with empathy and resilience.”

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Osmar with a group explains game rules

Although these might be concepts that are hard to apply, this method helps children and youth to understand them. Every game has three steps: Theory, action and rethinking. “We explain to children the rules before the game, then we play and later, as a group, we meditate about the game and attitudes to incorporate other concepts,” explains Osmar. “This is a useful tool and we can use it with children from 8 to 18 years old because they love to run, jump, and play in the field. A couple of months ago we had a great experience with 175 children under 12 and everything was perfect.”

But what does JuGAR means? Juego (game) / Globalidad (globality) / Actitud (attitude) / Reflexión (reflection).

Juego (game): Create a playing environment, then it is a pleasant environment for positive learning.

 Globalidad (globality): There should be a multi-dimensional approach: motor, cognitive, affective and social.

 Actitud (attitude): The person in charge, (teacher, coach, technician), must have a dynamic, enthusiastic and positive attitude to make sure their students have fun and learn key concepts easily.

Reflexión (reflection): Children are active protagonists in the activity and learn through discovering and reflection.

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“In 2017 we want to train Sport teachers, then, they can apply our JuGAR method at the school” says Osmar. Right now though he must say good bye because another group is ready to play and learn this Sunday.

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