Amman, Jordan, 9 November 2021 – As part of UN-Habitat’s mission of building better cities in the aftermath of the global pandemic, approximately 150 children in Al-Shahid and Souf Palestinian refugee camps received COVID-19 safety measures awareness training.

The awareness workshop, organised in collaboration of the Government of Jordan’s Department of Palestinian Affairs, also covered topics such as the importance of green public spaces, through entertaining and engaging activities.

This activity, under the project, Enhancing the safety and resilience of Palestinian Refugees through improving access to water and sanitation facilities in public spaces, covered children from the ages of 4 to 12 years old. The activities were help in September.

The awareness raising campaign and associated activities were conducted in response to the needs that previous participatory workshops with local community representatives had identified for the Public Space Site-Specific Assessment for selected public parks. The assessment allowed UN-Habitat and stakeholders to evaluate the quality of the public spaces and the needs of the camp residents.

The activities are implemented in public spaces where children usually are the dominant users; therefore, community representatives had identified as high priority the need for an awareness raising campaign to deliver messages to children in an accessible language that would assist in developing appropriate behavior when using parks, especially during the pandemic.

“UN-Habitat utilised dramatic arts to interactively engage children and increase their awareness of COVID-19 and the sanitation practices needed to avoid infection in a fun and entertaining way, while also exhibiting to the children the importance of open green public spaces and their role in maintaining them,” said Arch. Deema Abu Thiab, UN-Habitat’s Programme Coordinator.

The awareness day began with a planting activity where each child received a flowerpot with their name on it to plant. The activity aimed to improve the children’s sense of belonging to the parks and their care about maintaining the greenery collaboratively.

“I really love [the park] and don’t want it to close because of COVID-19. And today, we are really happy because we planted flowers and we want them to grow so we will water them every day and take care of them,” said Reem, a child living in Souf camp who visits the park every day.

The activity also involved an interactive play following the plot of the well-known “Red Riding Hood” story, which enabled children to easily relate to the story flow and be aware of the new messages being relayed in relation to COVID-19.

The play highlighted the importance of public spaces through the updated version of the story. The team comprehensively reshaped the theatrical presentation of the story, where the contents of the basket included sterilisers and masks instead of food, to highlight the importance of their use within the current epidemiological situation.

Furthermore, the wolf’s character, who is the antagonist of the story and who the children should not talk to or approach, was replaced to represent COVID-19. The show aimed to raise the awareness of children about the importance of wearing a mask when leaving the house, social distancing, keeping hands clean, and maintaining the parks and public areas.

After the play, the children engaged in a session about appropriate social behaviors in parks, were given examples of different behaviour and were asked if the action was correct or not and, if not, what they should be instead.

“This play was very informative and raised awareness, and I am thankful for these kinds of efforts. I hope that these sessions continue so we can keep increasing the children’s awareness, especially under the circumstances of COVID-19,” said Mohammed Al-Khaddour, the head of Al-Shahid Camp Services Committee.