Roses are red and some boxes are blue, you tell me how you feel and I listen to you! Well, this all started when Sara Aziz, a Psychosocial Counselor with a Master’s Degree in Psychotherapy, was studying child sexual abuse and how it affects individuals when they grow up. “I have studied the effects of sexual abuse that happens to children and how it affects their adulthood, so I thought ‘why wait? Why not teach children to protect themselves from abuse and report it whenever it happens to them?’” she says.
This is when she started Safe Kids, an organization that aims to raise awareness about child abuse and its prevention. Safe Kids works with prevention and intervention. They offer psychological services and workshops to raise awareness about child abuse and at the same time help those who have been abused to recover. This is in addition to promoting gender equality.
Sara saw that the hardest part about working with children, whether sexually abused or in general, is getting them to express their feelings and thoughts. So, she wanted to come up with something that could help children talk about how they feel, and what better way to do it than to play a game? That is when the blue boxes called “Safeelings” came to be. Safeelings is a game that everyone from 2.5 years and up can play. It is a set of cards with illustrations of feelings on them and all you have to do is point out to the feelings that you are experiencing no matter how many or diverse they are. For instance, you can take a look at the cards and pick three, in pain, happy, shy… and so on. This may seem pretty basic, but the game has more to it.
The game includes storyboards that can be told to the children, these stories about animals have so many morals about self-protection and emotional expression that leave the children with better ideas on how to protect themselves, and speak to their parents about the experiences they encounter.
Gamifying makes it more appealing for children to express their feelings and makes the process easier for them. They don’t have to come up with words but rather point out to whatever they are feeling inside. “Parents always used to complain that their children are not talking about how they feel”. says Aziz
Describing the children after playing the game, she says that they were very happy to just have that pause. “Our lifestyle has become very fast-paced and we are always running, we don’t get to pause and reflect. When playing the game, my daughter was so happy with that pause.” Aziz explains. Sara also recalls one family who played it together, and the children were amazed that their parents are expressing their feelings, and one child told his father, “you have feelings like we do!”
“Protecting our kids is our responsibility, it’s as simple as that,” says Sara. Safeelings is considered the first game of its kind to be released in Egypt. It is also suitable for all children, even children with special needs. The Founder’s also working on developing a game for the visually impaired through the Braille system. Right now, they conduct workshops about how to play “Safeelings” in schools, companies, nurseries and even birthdays! “We once went to a birthday party and we were more popular than the puppet show’’, says Aziz. The game is currently being sold at Safe Organization and online. They also are now selling it abroad in several Arab countries and North America.
Safeelings game can be found at Safe kids. Please visit their website:www.safekidseg.org