Training for Play Hubs in Slovakia that support Ukrainian children and families

On the last weekend of August, Giulia Cortellesi and Luisa Tesch from ICDI facilitated a three-day training for new Play Hubs in Slovakia. Škola dokorán , our long-standing partner and national coordinator of the TOY for Inclusion programme in Slovakia, together with UNICEF, opened six new Play Hubs for Ukrainian children and families (read more about these Play Hubs in this article).

These Play Hubs have been offering a safe and welcoming space for the last two months in six parts of Slovakia: Tatranská Lomnica, Spišská Nová Ves, Prešov, Košice, Poprad and Žilina. These locations were chosen for the number of Ukranian refugees they are hosting. Three Play Hubs are set in primary schools, while three others are in refugee camps.

Škola dokorán was extremely successful in setting up these six new Play Hubs in just a few weeks. Since they opened in June, they have already welcomed 3.000 children and families. Teams that lead Play Hubs are composed of Slovakian and Ukranian practitioners, educators and volunteers. During the meeting teams also shared their achievements and challenges during the first two months of implementation.

Teams who lead these Play Hubs have been participating in three different pieces of training during this year to facilitate the implementation of these Play Hubs.

In its fourth and last training, ICDI covered topics such as:

  • Intergenerational Learning
  • Communication and cooperation with families
  • Creating a sense of belonging for children and families
  • The importance of routines in early childhood
  • Reflective evaluation of practice for Play Hubs

Play Hubs are community-based inclusive non formal educational spaces that offer opportunities for socialization and integration for refugee families. Participating in meaningful activities and interacting with others in a child-friendly space can reduce stress and contribute to a sense of belonging for children and families that have suffered forced displacement.

During the training, participants reflected on how to nurture cooperation and a sense of belonging among children and families, as well as integrate different generations into their activities. The training was delivered in a way that allowed the exchange of ideas and experiences from the different teams working across the country. Therefore, cooperation between Play Hubs became a central aspect of the training.

Teams were able to connect theory and practice through several exercises and activities, which can be replicated in their own settings.