New board game to help children and teens cope with the aftermath of a disaster

November 25, 2010

New Zealand children who have been affected by disasters will be among the first to benefit from an innovative board game being launched at Parliament, Thursday 25 November. This includes children in Canterbury following the September earthquake as well as those currently facing trauma and stress from the ongoing events on the West Coast.

The Getting Stronger game, developed by the grief and trauma support service Skylight (www.skylight.org.nz ), is carefully designed to help children and young people 8 – 14 years old to talk about difficult situations in their lives, thoughts and feelings they have about them, and ideas for managing and keeping safe.

The game is designed to be played alongside a professional or support worker and is adaptable for a wide range of difficult life situations. The game’s different topic cards mean it can be used for children and younger teens affected by a disaster, bereavement, domestic violence, serious illness or injury in their family, or by addiction or mental illness in their family. Additional topic cards will be added in the future to make the game even more useful.

Skylight’s Information and Resource Centre Manager, Tricia Hendry, says the game has been developed to skillfully support especially vulnerable children affected by some of life’s toughest issues, for whom there are very few other support resources. There’s nothing like it available elsewhere.

“A game is a tool that is less threatening than direct conversation and it helps break down barriers with children and young people,” Tricia says.  “It helps prevent young people from burying grief and trauma away and works to builds up their inner strength, resiliency skills and positive self esteem.”

Tricia says that, during the development of the game, she was asked to work on a topic card set for those impacted by a natural disaster, because of all the young people affected by the Canterbury earthquake and the ongoing aftershocks.

Skylight was able to develop Getting Stronger primarily through funding from AXA Hearts in Action.

The game has been thoroughly tested by health, education and social service professionals to ensure its safety and high quality.  Children who have played it have asked to play it again.  Many NZ experts have advised on its content. There has been strong interest in this game from social service professionals both here and overseas.

The Getting Stronger Board Game is being launched at 10am on Thursday 25 November 2010, by Associate Minister of Health, Dr Jonathan Coleman, at The Grand Hall, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

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