Children and adolescents in the COVID-19 response of Educating Cities
Given the difficult situation currently faced by children and teenagers, with closed schools and other restrictions, many Educating Cities have drafted their response plans considering the specific needs of this age group.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the articulation of extraordinary measures at the global level in order to contain its expansion and to ensure an adequate response from health services.
In most countries, this response has led to a significant limitation of the rights of movement and assembly, as well as restrictions on daily activities such as going to work (for non-essential workers) or to participate in community life.
For children and adolescents, it has meant in many cases, the closure of schools, as well as significant restrictions on their outdoor activities and socialization.
According to specialized reports, the impact of these constraints on the well-being of children and adolescents is highly worrisome. Their healthy development, in its different evolutionary moments, requires taking care of their basic survival and protection needs, but it must also include education, participation, play and socialization.
Given this situation, numerous local governments around the world have included in their response plans to the epidemic, concrete actions aimed at supporting the specific needs of children and adolescents, as well as ensuring their fundamental rights.
Below is a sample of some initiatives in this regard. Although it cannot intend to be an exhaustive list of all undertaken actions, we hope that it can inspire other Educating Cities to incorporate the specific needs of children and adolescents in their COVID-19 response initiatives.
Basic needs and mental health
- Distribution of food kits for families with children in vulnerable situations during the lockdown Rosario (Argentina).
- Financial support to families that used to benefit from the subsidized school canteen services, so that they can continue ensuring adequate nutrition for children Sao Paulo (Brazil).
- Free socio-educational services to support the care of children of the frontline workers mobilized for the response to the crisis (health professionals, civil protection, fire department and security forces, food sector staff, etc.) Rennes (France)
- Delivery of “wellness kits” (happiness boxes) especially designed for children and adolescents. They contain hygiene and protection products, and include information brochures adapted to different age groups with tips for taking care of their well-being and information on available services. They also include a small surprise and a formal recognition for their collaboration in stopping the epidemic Andong (Republic of Korea).
- Intensified monitoring of children at risk by local social services during lockdown measures Espoo- Finland.
- Psychosocial support service via WhatsApp aimed at adolescents that proposes activities to express their emotions through poetry and to facilitate detection and intervention in situations of risk Vitoria (Brazil).
- Support measures for schools to implement online teaching through agreements with companies to expand internet bandwidth and the launch of an online platform to facilitate communication between schools and families Turin (Italy).
- Program to loan laptops to students whose families can’t provide one, during the closure of schools Lisboa (Portugal); Boadilla del Monte (Spain).
- YouTube channel through which students can access educational content adapted to their academic year. Classes are also broadcasted on the local television channel. Curitiba and Sorocaba Curitiba, Sorocaba (Brazil);
- Service to help primary school students with their doubts regarding the school assignments through WhatsApp (the adults in charge of the child send the question by WhatsApp and a teacher contacts them to solve it together) Godoy Cruz (Argentina)
- Technological mediators: teams of volunteers who help people who have difficulties using new technologies by telephone Rennes (France).
- Virtual platform “Dear diary” (Estimat diari): a space for the collective expression of children where they can send texts, drawings, photos or videos explaining how they are experiencing the lockdown, their feelings, proposals, etc. The works are published on the website and will be registered in the municipal archive as the testimony of a unique moment in history Barcelona (Spain).
- Activity for children to reflect together with their families on the exceptional situation they are experiencing through an exercise that consists of creating their own “Time Capsule” Buenos Aires (Argentina)
- Participatory budget to improve the lives of children and adolescents in the city: a web platform has been articulated to collect proposals for actions that will be later developed into action plans designed in a participatory manner, which will be submitted to a public vote (open to all residents over 12 years old) Tampere (Finland).
- Participation in the project “A letter, a smile”: through which children and young people are encouraged to send messages of support or drawings to the older people of the city (the messages are collected through a web platform and printed in an automated way, being enveloped and distributed in paper format respecting the health safety guidelines) Rennes (France).
Culture, creative leisure
- Children write stories with a participative approach online (following the methodology Storycrafting) Espoo (Finland).
- Free online platform with videos made by professionals from the city who teach creative and healthy leisure activities, broadcast plays run by local companies, concerts, etc. Rosario (Argentina).
- Web space which centralises all the cultural offer of the city with special contents for boys and girls and accessible free of charge Montevideo (Uruguay)
- Web space of the Municipal Dance Centre with dance related activities, videos with dance tutorials to do at home during lockdown and locally produced dance show Porto Alegre (Brazil)
- Online leisure program for young people through Instagram in which activities, quizzes and sporting, musical, scientific or humour challenges are proposed. There are prize raffles for the participants. It also includes a contest for young musical talents Bilbao
- Project “Delivery of books” through which members of the municipal library can order books via WhatsApp, telephone or email and have them delivered to their homes Godoy Cruz (Argentina)
- Free sports classes offered by professionals from the municipal sports institutions that are broadcasted through an online video platform Vitoria (Brazil).
- Project “In my kitchen” (Na Minha Cozinha) by which families are encouraged to prepare a healthy meal together and send the video that will be edited and shared with the municipal virtual community Setúbal (Portugal)
- Program “The vegetable garden at home” (La huerta en casa), through which kits with the necessary elements to start a small organic garden at home are distributed during quarantine Godoy Cruz (Argentina)