Building resilience among children after disaster
Save the Children works to ensure all children and young people are supported during and after a crisis. In the first hours when children are evacuated from their homes, we are there to keep them safe and supported through our Child-Friendly Spaces in evacuation and relief centres. Once the emergency has passed, we continue to work with impacted children to provide the support they need to process what they’ve experienced and mitigate the long-term impacts.
We do this through our Journey of Hope in-school program delivered by 54 reasons. Journey of Hope helps children and caregivers cope with traumatic events, develop their natural resilience and strengthen their social support networks.
The ongoing impact disaster can have on children
In any crisis, children are always the most vulnerable. More than half of those affected by emergencies are children, and crises can severely affect their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Research confirms that without early intervention, children experiencing trauma may suffer negative effects that impact educational and functional outcomes later in life1. Studies2 show that primary school children in bushfire affected areas demonstrated reduced academic progress compared with their peers two to four years after the event.
An evidence-based program with proven results
Journey of Hope was first implemented after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and developed with children and educators. The program has since been delivered to more than 85,000 children in numerous countries, including over 5,000 children affected by the 2019-20 bushfires in NSW and Victoria.
The program is implemented by trained facilitators in small groups of up to ten students. It uses experiential and reflective learning activities, including cooperative play, discussion and creative arts, to help children recognise and process common emotions, identify stressors and triggers, and build capacity to deal with those emotions.
Key objectives of Journey of Hope include supporting children to:
- understand and normalise emotions associated with traumatic stress
- develop positive coping strategies to deal with these emotions
- build on their innate strengths and of their families, schools and communities to further develop positive coping mechanisms
- cultivate a sense of hope, empowering them to feel more in control over stressors.