Children make origami creations during a Happy Saturday program in Thailand.
Not only does poverty threaten the health and well-being of children all over the world, it also often robs them of the chance to engage in simple play, artistic activities and other means of expression that are crucial to a happy childhood. In countries like Thailand, the realities of everyday life for those who live in poverty can make it difficult for children to experience the joy of expression or play with their friends. ChildFund has operated in Thailand since 1959, and we work to ensure children have the opportunity to play, express themselves and socialize with their peers through our Happy Saturday program.
Play and creative expression are crucial to children's development. Although structured classroom learning is very important, it is vital that children have the opportunity to improve their cognitive abilities through play and other social activities. Unfortunately, this is simply not possible for many Thai children.
Approximately 10 percent of Thailand's population of 67 million people live in poverty. Many Thai children are raised by their grandparents, as extreme poverty and a lack of employment opportunities often force parents to relocate to find work. Some Thai children become wards of the state, as separatist violence in the southern part of the country has resulted in the deaths of many parents.
Brightening Children's Days
As a child development agency, ChildFund recognizes how important it is for children to express themselves and enjoy simple play. For this reason, we established the Happy Saturday program to give children space to forget their worries and have fun.
During these sessions, children meet at early childhood development centers and schools. Here, they can use playground equipment that is often lacking from their schools, sing songs, watch or perform in skits and paint pictures. This provides children with the vital creative outlet they need to develop.
In addition, many of the children who participate in the Happy Saturdays program take this opportunity to write to their sponsors, letting them know what they have been doing. Some children also send their sponsors pictures they have drawn that day, providing another way for sponsors to connect with the children who benefit from their support. Children from many different villages gather to participate in Happy Saturdays, allowing them to meet children from other communities and make new friends.
Another important benefit of the Happy Saturday program is teaching children the importance of basic health issues such as proper sanitation. This is accomplished through plays, which the children act out themselves. This makes it easier for children to understand and identify with topics that could be complicated or confusing if merely spoken about.
ChildFund works with the CCF Foundation, our international partner in Thailand, to support almost 1,800 children across several communities. To help children in Thailand, consider making a donation to our Children's Greatest Needs fund. Your generosity will help us provide children in need with the opportunity to to express themselves, play and enjoy a ray of sunshine in their lives.