Bernard van Leer Foundation: Share your ideas for children and families


The head of the Bernard van Leer Foundation has asked for help in sharing ideas for supporting families and toddlers across the world during the coronavirus lockdown.

Cecilia Vaca Jones, the foundation’s Executive Director, wrote to us from her hometown of Quito, Ecuador, where she went to be close to family shortly before the borders closed. She wants everyone to use the power of social media to share creativity spread ideas which can help children and families who, in most countries, have been largely restricted to their homes for the past month.

‘Sitting at home feels strange’

“For those of us playing our part to fight the coronavirus by staying away from other people, sitting at home feels…strange. As if we couldn’t possibly be doing much. Even as crucial as the act of staying home (for those of us who are able to do so) has become,” she wrote.

“Yet this time that many of us suddenly have more of is a precious resource. Time at home with the people we live with, and time to support our communities and the people we care for by virtual means.

My colleagues are likewise working from their homes in Lima, São Paulo, London, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Mumbai and various cities in the Netherlands.”

‘Time to send a kind word’

‘It was time’, added Cecilia, ‘to play with and to love the babies and toddlers in our care: what they need most to grow healthy brains and bodies’. “Time to send a kind word or (safely) run an errand for those faced with extra stress, anxiety and caregiving responsibilities without their usual supports. We are gathering and sharing practical ideas on social media – from our partners and others – to support families caring for babies and toddlers during this time.”

The Bernard van Leer Foundation is one of the world’s most prominent NGOs working to improve the lives of children living in cities worldwide.

If you have ideas or resources for how families with young children can continue their play and stay mentally healthy, please email or tag the foundation @BvLFoundation on Twitter at:

  • #toddlinginside and
  • #indoormentalhealth or #mentalhealth4parents

‘We can and must stay socially distanced’

Cecilia added: “We have been deeply inspired by the community action and virtual support springing up all over the world. We may be physically distanced, but we can and must stay socially connected.

“We wish everyone at home safe and healthy. And we thank the extraordinary health workers and other key workers whose essential work is keeping our society healthy and together.” 

Author: Simon Weedy

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