Belgian cities’ games packages for vulnerable kids in lockdown
While the home isolation measures caused by coronavirus lockdowns take their toll on parents worldwide, cities in Belgium’s Flanders region are going the extra mile to keep children’s minds active by providing free games kits and books.
The Belgian federal government has extended the pandemic measures to 19 April, and of course this means more weeks under quarantine for everyone, not least the nation’s children.
With schools having shut down, and playgrounds and parks being closed, children are forced to stay at home for days on end, deprived of their energy outlets and of essential means of socialisation.
And it is vulnerable households who are finding it particularly challenging, often finding it difficult to make sure that their youngsters are able to spend their free time doing meaningful of activities. It’s these low-income families that are being targeted with game packages.
Essential means of socialisation
The start of the Easter break saw the city of Ghent give out some 1,500 free packages to local families. Made up of crafts, games and reading materials, the packs were collected by coordinators of the various community school districts and prepared jointly by volunteers, local service providers and city authorities.
Ghent is also giving out hundreds of books to vulnerable children, thanks to an initiative – boekensite.gent – between Ghent City Education and a group of publishers and distributors. They are also giving away pavement chalk, with the intention that children make drawings about the books and these are then shared on social media under the hashtag #eenbookvoorjou (a book for you).
Elke Decruynaere, from the city’s education department, said: “This is a lovely initiative that not only encourages students to keep reading, but also stimulates their imagination and creativity. I am very happy with this collaboration with the publishers and am already looking forward to the drawings.”
In Leuven meanwhile, kids have been receiving new and second-hand game equipment, thanks to city employees and volunteers who have making deliveries to vulnerable families. These include construction kits, board games, educational activities, reading books and comics.
The goal of the locally driven initiatives is to allow any child to have fun during the holiday season despite the extraordinary situation of social isolation. Through this measure, the cities want to reduce the effects of the income gap that is reinforced even further by the pandemic circumstances.