In the face of a calamity, there are no guesses, that the most vulnerable segment of the society is the children. Based in the state of Odisha which is prone to natural calamities, the latest being the extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani, that hit its coast line a couple of months back, germinated an idea in the mind of Mr Prakash K Rath, Area Director, SO Bharat-Odisha. Unable to be a passive audience to disasters year after year, Mr Rath conceptualized a ‘Child Friendly Space’. These are typically sheltered places located on higher ground or a space that is not affected or likely to be affected, ready to embrace children in the calamity-affected areas. While providing the children a protected cocoon the CFS also gives a chance to the parents to salvage parts of their scatter left, after the calamity has struck, without having to worry about the security and safety of their little ones.

16 such spaces in badly affected villages of Nimapada block of Puri district, mostly Anganwadis under the Integrated Child Development Services scheme of Government of India (rural child care centre in India), have been identified in Odisha and the required materials have reached them, preparing to dive into action at the earliest.

Typically, any Child Friendly Space looks into the physical aspects like being equipped with tarpaulin, covered fencing, a caregiver/educator preferably a lady, while it also creates an environment that encourages the children to surface and diffuse their anxieties through recreational methods. Materials like the painting canvas/drawing sheets, paints and brushes, coloured clays, scissors and craft materials, books, notebooks and pens, outdoor and indoor play materials are provided for use in the CFS. The Young Athletes kit is an ideal tool for the CFS that create a silver lining by ensuring that the children continue to develop in a fun-friendly environment.

 On the 21st of September 2019 the first batch of materials were distributed to a Primary School located in Nijoga Kasoti through the hands of a visiting team from Adoptionscentrum, Sweden. The materials were handed over to the Headmistress, Ms. Rozalin Swain in the presence of all the students of the school by Mr. Jonas, a Board Member, Ms. Ulrika Oberg, Program Officer of Adoptionscentrum, Sweden and Ms. Ruby Rout, India Representative of Adoptionscentrum. Ms. Oberg appreciated the effort and stated that it is an apt child protection mechanism.

 “We are very happy to receive these materials”, said Ankita Priyadarshini, a 5 year old girl of the school smiling from ear to ear.

 ”These materials are so vital for the growth and development of our children. Our school did not have such facilities and we are grateful to Special Olympics Bharat for this support and to OLS and SOB-Odisha for making it happen” said Ms. Rozalin Swain, the Headmistress.