Yhteiset Lapsemme 2/2022: Be Brave and Fair activities in multilingual contexts
Written by Timofei Tikhomirov and Diane Miller
Yhteiset Lapsemme ry:n sosionomiopiskelijat pitivät keväällä 2022 englanninkielisiä työpajoja lapsille ja nuorille monikielisissä ympäristöissä: Ukrainalaisten avustuskeskuksessa, englanninkielisissä päiväkodeissa ja persiankielisessä yhteisöryhmässä. Tässä artikkelissa he kertovat järjestämistään Ole rohkea ja reilu -työpajoista.
All Our Children’s Be Brave and Fair workshops are directed towards starting conversations about diversity, belonging, and exclusion with children as young as 3 years old, progressing to the discussions of discrimination and privilege with older participants. As students of the Social Services program in English, we have decided to use our internship to reach more non-Finnish speaking communities with the help of another, more experienced intern.
Our main target group was English-speaking kindergartens, where we held workshops for groups of 3–4 and 5–6-year-olds. The workshops included reading and discussing a story, as well as play and movement activities that highlight its main ideas. The tale teaches the children to appreciate differences, make sure no one is left out, and apologize if they treat someone unfairly. The games encourage the children to participate and work together, and we have often witnessed the children taking the initiative to support their shy friends, and help those who don’t know the language well yet to join everyone in playing.
A great opportunity arose from the community level. While we were holding a children’s art workshop in the Oodi Library, we were approached by a woman who is organizing regular meetings for Persian-speaking families. After hearing about our activities, she invited us to hold a workshop at one of their meetings. The main purpose of their group is to support the children in getting to know their cultures and having a space to hear and speak their native language. For supporting this initiative, we have given one of their group facilitators our story, so it could be translated and read to the children in Persian, while we led the play activities. Even though the format was unusual for this workshop model, it was a success and soon we were invited to visit the group once more.
All Our Children is committed to supporting the families of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in integration. This spring, Interkult and All Our Children collaborated to hold an all-day arts and crafts event at the Ukraine help center in Helsinki. We have used a combination of languages and gestures to communicate with our visitors. The children participated in different ways. Some of them silently created craft works that they happily took with themselves when they left. Others needed a listening ear and shared their feelings about being in Finland while at the table. Quiet children’s faces brightened when they were played with, even without any common language. Seeing the reactions of the children, we hope to hold more workshops like this during the rest of our internship.
Bringing Be Brave and Fair workshops to the Ukrainian children is an important goal for our future. Discussing the topics of diversity and belonging is very valuable when entering a new multicultural society. Meanwhile, we find that organizing art and play activities with the children is just as significant. Through our work, we aspire to provide children with a safe, welcoming, and enriching environment to support their well-being and development.
As we worked with different ages, languages, and cultures, we learned to adapt our activities to better connect with the children and make the topics accessible. We feel that during this internship we found great opportunities to develop our professional competencies, as well as received deeply gratifying experiences of seeing the curiosity, enthusiasm, and joy on the children’s faces.