A community center in Bucharest helps mother and children cope with their challenges
Every year, the month of June reminds us to celebrate children and childhood, June 1 marking the International Children's Day, first mentioned in Geneva during the World Conference on Child Welfare in August 1925, when representatives of 54 countries adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Following this event, a number of governments around the world started celebrating Children's Day.
For the employees of this community center in Bucharest, the welfare of both children and parents is very important. Melania Medeleanu, a founding member of the center, told us more about a series of workshops addressing both children and parents.
"We work for the Good Days Community center, which was originally opened to address the Ukrainian community, and starting June 1 it also addresses the Romanian community. Today we welcomed a few children and their mothers. In the morning, we had a workout workshop for mothers and their babies. Now we have an African drums workshop, featuring Mihai Axinte. Children are anxious to try them out. It is the first such event. We have been organizing Romanian and English language classes for the Ukrainian community, as well as yoga, art therapy and dance classes for children. They meet four times a week and so far we have enrolled 500 Ukrainian mothers and children, and we're happy to be able to welcome them in a friendly environment where they can attend workshops, laugh or cry, if they feel the need to do that".
Alexandra Axinte, one of the organizers of the workshops, also gave us more details:
"Today's workshop is called Good Monday, since it's the first day of the week. We want to build a community here, so we started with children and their parents. We had several interactive workshops. First, mothers danced with their babies and worked out, then we had an emotion management workshop with 'the map of emotions' for children aged 5-8, and now we have a drum workshop, designed to teach children and parents a number of rhythms. The aim is to get people connected, to find various ways to bring us together, through words and movement, and music and emotion, to see what people need right now and help in any way we can".
We've asked Alexandra Axinte what kind of feedback she got.
"In the morning, mothers were very excited to be able to meet other mothers and their children and socialize. It's something they desperately need. Then, in the emotion management workshop, mothers got to relax, away from their children. They sat out on the terrace while the children had fun with us. You can hear everyone having a good time, which means so far so good!"
Alina Tofan, an actress and eco-performer, also shared her experience with us.
"My workshop focused on art-therapy. We worked with the map of emotions, an exercise teaching children to focus on the shape of their body. They are only now starting to discover their bodies and we worked a lot at a mental level, trying to stimulate their creativity and spontaneity. The workshop was adapted to the needs of each child. Today, I had four children in my class. There are usually as many as 12 children, but the fewer they are, the better it gets for them, because their focus isn't spread too thin. However, they work better in larger numbers because they learn from each other fast. Another exercise was to build our own gift bags, which we are basically recycling. Children learned to work together and be mindful of the others' needs, they got inspired from what they saw around them. Then each kid introduced himself, and we got to work a bit on the language and creativity - how to tell a story, how to describe a character, sharing fears and hobbies. It's interesting to see how many things they get to learn by interacting with each other. It's a very good exercise that boosts their self-confidence, and it gets easier when they work in groups. What I noticed is they are each very open. They know their limits and know exactly what they want. But I think there's still room to guide them, and encourage them to express themselves freely. There have been kids who have trouble unlocking their creative potential. They might have the potential and the intention, but they just cannot tap into it. It's usually the other way round, since kids are very creative but often don't know to manifest their creative side. Each group has its specificity, but I can say children today know a lot of things they can also express, so the future looks good!" (VP)