IMPACT Newsletter September 2020

Viewing the pandemic through the eyes of a child

When COVID-19 took over our televisions, newspapers, social media, hospitals and about every aspect of our lives we all became a bit panicked. What was tomorrow going to bring? How was I going to adapt? What do we do now? If all of these thoughts were buzzing through our minds, imagine the toll all this uncertainty took on children.

Thankfully our team at Australian Childhood Foundation leaped into action to ensure our most vulnerable kids weren’t feeling confused, anxious or uncertain.

We spoke to Chris Cussen, a Senior Therapeutic Services Advisor at Australian Childhood Foundation, about the resources she helped create to ensure children feel safe in a time of uncertainty.

What do you think prompted the creation of these resources?

I think it was February or March when it started to hit that this whole COVID-19 pandemic was going to affect everyone in Australia. We were all seeing the news daily and you could feel the anxiety and uncertainty in every interaction you had with people.

We starting thinking ‘well, golly’, if this is how we are feeling, what’s this going be like for kids and families that have experienced trauma and are trying to recover and heal with this new layer of stress and pressure.

I remember speaking with our CEO, Joe, and he was also focused on  these families and children. It was almost an organic progression when we began to turn our discussions into resources to help.

How were these resources and their themes created?

Our focus was to create resources that spoke directly to families and children. We wanted to add to our traditional communications with practitioners and almost enter the family home through these resources.

From there, the themes were developed from watching the news, talking among ourselves at ACF and even talking with our own kids. Our kids played a key part from providing ideas on themes to testing the resources.

One of the themes came from the terrible Australian bush fires directly before COVID-19. You’d see someone walk up to someone else – they might not even know them – and just give them a hug. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, how beautiful is that?’ This little piece of humanity. Then when COVID-19 came that act of kindness and comfort was taken away.  I thought, we need to shift the way that we comfort and support each other. That’s where the ‘Many ways to share a hug’ resource came from.

We also collaborated with an amazing illustrator who helped the themes come to life in Jess Racklyeft. She has a young family too, and is as committed to supporting children and families as we are at the Foundation.

Why do you think these resources are so important for children and their families right now?

I hope our resources are playing a part in providing parents and carers the support they need to help their kids get through this. They are missing out on so many aspects of their day-to-day lives and, it is a lot to take in. Adults are confused because everything is changing daily, so we wanted to put out resources to give parents and carers the opportunity to help their kids make sense of what is happening around them.

We made a point of making these resources digital too, because not everyone owns a printer and even if they do, I can say for sure that buying ink, toner and paper just isn’t a financial priority in a pandemic that has impacted so many people’s income.

Personally, how does it feel knowing that these resources have been received so well?

I don’t have social media or anything so I don’t really know how people have responded to these resources in a broader sense, but I did hear that someone in Cape Town found them useful That was pretty cool to know people from all over were benefiting.

I just felt, and I still feel really lucky because I got put in this position of getting to try and make sense of what was happening through writing – which really helped me, on a family level, a personal level, and also made me feel like I wasn’t as helpless. I was trying to do something to help families and children out there.

If someone has an idea for a resource, how can they get in touch?

You can contact us via our website or over the phone on 1300 381 581 Just let our Support team know that you have an idea for the COVID-19 resources being developed.

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