Let children play

When COVID-19 hit, many aspects of people’s lives and livelihoods were turned upside down. Like in every crisis, children were also affected, and one of the areas is that due to lockdown, movement restrictions and other safety measures, children have not had the chance to meet others in their neighborhoods.

In Rwanda where play time most of the time is regarded as an instrument of passing time, the media chipped in to stress on the importance that play time has in early childhood development.

In a campaign spearheaded by Rwanda’s Play Movement, Kina Rwanda, different media outlets have disseminated messages that allow parents to understand how critical play time is in children’s lives.

Kiss FM, one of the radio stations with the widest national reach, sent out regular mentions. “Playing is not a waste of time as many of us think. A child learns through play. When a child plays, he/she learns to communicate with others, grows mentaly and gets more skills and knowledge to help him grow. Learning doesn’t only happen at school, even at home your child can learn through play. Find time to play with your child. It doesn’t take much of your time”, said Sandrine and Arthur as they chatted live on Air, one of the presenters said live on air at the start of this media campaign.

Radio 10, one of the radios also engaged Ciney, a famous singer to reflect on the importance of play time and how this looks like in her own family. Through questions, presenters prompted the singer to reflect on her experience with play. As a mother of two, who has a full-time job and works in the showbizz business, Ciney shared how the busyness of her life never stops her from planning for her kids’ playtime. “Play time does not always have to be just about play because at my house, sometimes bath time turns into play time as kids have a blast playing with water.” she said. In the era where social media is prevalent, Ciney stressed on the importance of not getting caught up in the never-ending scrolling on screens, and encouraged other parents to instead have time to engage in play activities away from digital devices.

The media has always been a powerful tool in raising awareness and shifting people’s behaviors, and it will be interesting to see this media engagement inspiring real life action in the future.