In an instant COVID-19 pushed the world into a new reality. For at-risk children and communities this has been particularly challenging. The power of social play – such an important development tool – was all but halted. The Sports Creative adapted to support the coaches we have trained as they lead their programs against the odds in marginalized communities. Here’s what we’ve been up to.
To begin this journey, we must take into account that every community we serve has been on lockdown since March and according to our experience, these communities have been hit most acutely by secondary impact. This includes restriction on movement, and of course play, lack of access to key services and supplies – inclusive of fresh food, healthcare, education, and legal support for families. Many kids find that multiple family members have lost jobs, informal work has been halted. When you bundle this together the impact has been traumatic for many families and substance dependency has increased as a consequence. Sadly, this has led to an increase in stress situations and risk situations including abuse.
In the communities we serve we responded swiftly and constructively in support of the 21 coaches we have trained across the programs. We recognized that staying at home and COVID-avoidance measures were critical and supported the coaches to share these messages with the youth in the program. To do this safely and socially distanced meant supporting the coaches to set up digital networks – most notably through whatsapp. The challenge we faced was that coaches often don’t have access to phones or data – in which instances we have financially supported them. Once communications networks were in place, we supported the coaches to:
- ‘Check in’ on and support youth at-risk in talking through their experiences
- Create isolation wellness activities (physical & mental for the home)
- Share learning and build support partnerships – connecting to supportive local organizations
From the beginning, the children have been asking when they can return to the fields, they have been hugely patient. Now as government decisions permit, we are seeing our communities slowly open up across the board. The Sports Creative is working with each set of coaches to create general guidelines.
We have listed these guidelines below. We welcome feedback and shared learning with other organizations serving communities across the world. One lesson we have learnt from COVID-19 is that even apart, we are stronger together.
Follow Government guidelines
In each country the Government have guidelines on group activity and exercise
Communications remains key
An adequate system of communication with all participants. Regular updating of information. Ensuring coaches and the community have adequate data and equipment to communicate. Clear guidelines on how training sessions will operate.
Rules for the field
- Each participant communicated with ahead of training – rules of participation
- Limit entry to the facilities exclusively to users and/or coaches subject to established sports and/or art schedules
- All users must bring their personal items (water bottles, towels) to classes rather than being shared as previously
- Registration system on entry – masks & antibacterial gel mandatory
- Mandatory mask use before and after class
- Temperature taking at the entrance of the facilities of all users
- People with a temperature higher than 37 degrees Celsius will not participate in the activities of that day and their families must be informed. Same if someone has any symptoms related to the disease
- Any training tools must be disinfected before and after each use
- Activities that do not involve contact between users and/or trainers
- Activities which maintain social distance of at least 1 meter away
- Division of groups to a maximum of 10 users in total per section
- Avoid competitions/tournaments which will lead to large gatherings
- Antibacterial gel mandatory when leaving
- Participants to report any symptoms post-training
Coaches will be equipped with relevant resources such as: thermometers, antibacterial gel and masks. Coaches are supported to plan each training session ahead of time.
The pandemic is not over. Lockdown may return. The coaches are ready to return to lockdown rules and our above response strategy.