Schools Supported by ECW to Receive Children’s Mental Wellbeing Training

Thursday 16 November 2023

In a training organized by Save the children, school children to get art for healing, art for learning and art for fun as part of the Education Cannot Wait’s Multi-Year Resilience Programs in South Sudan.


Participants during the HEART training in Juba. Photo: Estella John/Save the Children

Juba, South Sudan - Save the Children and partners concluded a four-day Trainers of Trainees (TOT) training to its Multi-year Resilience Program (MYRP) - Education Cannot Wait (ECW) implementing partners on Healing and Education through Arts (HEART) in Juba on Thursday 16th November 2023. Twenty-Four (24) (7 female and 17 male) participants attended the HEART training aimed to equip the implementing partners with knowledge on mental wellbeing and how to identify as well as support children who are experiencing or exhibiting mental related symptoms. The practical training enhances learning through art-based activities, promote emotional safety and wellbeing.

One of the participants at the training is Gune Grace, a child protection officer at Peace and Education Development Program (SPEDP).

Grace (infront) in an exercise during the training. Photo: Estella John/Save the Children

She said, the training has been a healing and learning process, “This training adds so much weight to the work that I do every day. It helps me to understand children’s emotions and how to respond to them. By the end of this training, I believe I would have been healed, learnt new skills and ready to engage better with children in all the 25 schools that we work with in Magwi County”, said Gune.

Kon Joseph is the Education Cannot Wait project manager for Nile Hope. He said this is his first time to attend such kind of a training.  “I have had many trainings, but this is unique because it is practical, engaging, fun and helps us on how to deal with children’s stress”, Said Joseph.  According to Joseph, in the process of the training, “you forget the stress that you have because it keeps you engaged with the art activities.”

The HEART training is designed in a way that is practical, and easy to memorize because of the activities such as drawing, molding, storytelling, drama acting, body mapping exercise, anger and happiness exercise, problem solving drama, cow and chicken choir, body mirroring, color Line Tracing.

 “We are going to emulate this training exactly to the children in all the 16 primary schools, 2 secondary schools and 7 alternative learning program centers that Nile Hope is operating in across the country, Joseph said.

HEART is one of the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) approaches usually integrated in school learning environment. It encompasses three major components which are art for healing, art for learning and art for fun. Children in South Sudan have gone through traumatic experiences due to adversity and conflict situations. Traumatic memories are often hidden in the subconscious mind until they are triggered by an event or situation. Such memories can hinder not only a child’s development but also learning if not detected and handled early enough. HEART approach gives the opportunity for the children to express these memories through art or play that enable the teachers to identify the child struggles and give appropriate help or make referrals for further management.

“This training is crucial for people working with children to help them take care of themselves, manage stressors and not to inflict their stress on the children that they work with, said the facilitator", Mabiei peter. The knowledge gained from the training can be used at schools, child friendly spaces and other spaces to engage children and maintain their mental wellbeing. 

After this training, Trainers of Trainees will reach out to schools to train teachers because they are having direct contact with children. This is important particularly for teachers to enhance their understanding on integration of art-based activities in classrooms which is one of the strategies to retain children in schools.

Partners who are part of the training include World Vision International (WVI), Help Education South Sudan (HESS), Christian Mission for Development (CMD), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Universal Intervention and Development Organization (UNIDOR), Support for Peace and Education Development Program (SPEDP), Nile Hope, Peace Corps Organization (PCO), Light For The World, Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI), Windle Trust International (WTI) and Finn Church Aid (FCA).

Written by Estella John/Save the Children

Editted by Tito Justin/Save the Children