The Importance of Play

Early last week, I bought a membership at a rock climbing gym and I’m obsessed. I am already looking for new ways to get invested in this new hobby. I love it because I get to use my body to physically climb and my mind to process and invent new routes. It’s taken me right back to my childhood and all the hours I got to play on playgrounds and make games out of gym equipment.

This playtime as children is instrumental in development. According to a report by The American Academy of Pediatrics, “play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.” Playtime helps children “learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.”

Playtime is so extremely important that it is considered an essential human right of every child by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.

After Kim Sath's father died several years ago, she spent most of her time working on the family farm. Thanks to FH training, she now has a normal childhood going to school and playing with friends.

After Kim Sath’s father died several years ago, she spent most of her time working on the family farm. Thanks to FH training, she now has a normal childhood going to school and playing with friends.

However, many places around the globe don’t prioritize playtime. Families often force their children to work as a means of saving and earning money. Or they need to spend time walking to fetch water, or laboring in the family farm. According to UNICEF, an estimated 150 million children worldwide are engaged in child labor.

This is something that Food for the Hungry (FH) hates. We work hard to combat child labor so that children can attend school and have sufficient playtime.

How FH prioritizes play

A good example of this is Chea Kim Sath’s testimony. She lives in Cambodia and is in ninth grade. Her family’s source of income is mainly agriculture. Because of financial problems in her family and her father’s recent death, Kim Sath and her siblings were expected to work on the farm. But after FH started working in their village, everything changed.

Agriculture training helped their mother have better yields and earn more money. A Savings Group helped her get loans and provide for her children. Staff members taught Kim Sath’s family about the importance of keeping children in school and out of forced labor. Now, Kim Sath attends school regularly and has free time to play outside of school.

FH also likes to encourage playtime by helping visiting churches run sports camps like this one in Philippines.

A short-term visiting team from Journey's Crossing Church held a sports camp in their C2C community in Bulucan.

A short-term visiting team from Journey’s Crossing Church held a sports camp in their C2C community in Bulucan.

In the Dominican Republic, we fund baseball programs. These programs help children find something healthy to be passionate about.

Children play baseball at a sports equipment distribution in the DR.

Children play baseball at a sports equipment distribution in the DR.

As children grow, it’s important they have time to be kids. That way, as they get older, they can be good adults. Believe it or not, the educational experience of sufficient playing time is incredibly important to breaking the cycle of poverty. That’s something we’re committed to.

You can join us and support child development by going here and sponsoring a child so she/he can have the rewarding childhood God has planned.