Cordillera Administrative Region- “Speech is silver and silence is golden”. This statement of Winston Churchill gives so much emphasis on the importance of listening.
Being heard is a universal desire of every individual regardless of their status, race, preference, or age.
But there are times when we just hear but fail to listen.
This is not the case in the Reception and Study Center for Children (RSCC) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) where 0-6 year old children are provided with protection and rehabilitation services. It provides temporary residential care to neglected, abused, abandoned, and exploited children who are in need of alternative care.
As of 24 June 2019, the RSCC is home to 22 children who are being provided with social work interventions that address their growth and developmental needs.
Need to be Heard
Among the developmental needs being addressed in the center is the need of the children to be heard.
“Seldom do we involve our children in planning and decision-making activities. They are not consulted on their preferences because as adults, we think that we already know what is the best for them. But in the RSCC, we recognize that children can contribute ideas, thus we have implemented the Kiddie Meeting which is the idea of Ms. Nelly Mason”, DSWD-CAR Regional Director Janet P. Armas said.
“Kiddie meetings allow our children to express their thoughts and feelings on activities involving them. They are also consulted on the planning of their community exposure activities.” RSCC Head Nelly Mason shared.
On 24 July 2016, the first Kiddie Meeting was conducted. With the help of a house parent, the participants aging 2 to 6 years old successfully evaluated their past community exposure and provided comments and suggestion for their next activity.
With the positive insight, the Kiddie Meeting was conducted twice a month.
Listening not hearing
To implement the Kiddie Meeting successfully, the RSCC came up with a framework. It includes a four-step process which starts from sharing where children are asked to share their thoughts and feelings regarding a recent event. This is often done through a focused-group discussion (FGD).
After which, their photos and videos during the recent event are shown for further evaluation. Afterwards, the children are asked to give their recommendations for the upcoming activity. Finally, the children are asked to cast their votes. Preferred activities will be carefully planned and arranged by the RSCC staff.
“All suggestions are listed and carefully discussed. But at the end of the day, the thoughts of our children matter most. Young as they are, their voices should be heard for them to know that their participation is important-that they are important”, RSCC Head Nelly Mason said.
During the Kiddie Meeting, the facilitators are not only able to show compassion to the children but they also help in boosting their morale and self-esteem through the praises that they give to the children’s noteworthy actions.
The activity allows the children to learn appropriate social skills. A show of greater willingness to interact with their environment as they grow was observed. Also through the Kiddie Meeting, the children began to establish a sense of ‘self’ and learned what others expect of them. Eventually, the children also improved their communication skills.
“We are very happy and proud whenever the RSCC children actively and confidently communicate during our Kiddie Meetings. This validates our role as enablers and not just care givers”, House Parent Bernadette Chanas shared.
“Listening is just the first step in showing our love and respect for our children. They may not yet have many years behind them, but we cannot disregard the wisdom that they have. As adults, it is also our responsibility to assure that they live in an environment where they are empowered enough to share their thoughts. It is showing them that they matter- that despite the circumstances that they are into, they are loved and treasured”, Director Armas said. #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Nerizza Faye G. Villanueva with Cindy Maximo and Sharon Gayadan