The following is a press release from UNICEF Thailand
BANGKOK, 30 March 2021 – With prolonged closures of early childhood development (ECD) centers in high-risk areas of Samut Sakorn Province due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF has started distributing Magic Boxes containing books, toys, and learning materials as well as parental guidelines to help keep young children engaged in learning activities at home.
A total of 1,000 sets of ‘Magic Box’ are being delivered to families with young children under 6 years old in Thai and migrant communities in areas of Samut Sakorn Province severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. UNICEF is working closely with the Department of Local Administration and non-governmental organizations to ensure that the most disadvantaged children and families, those with limited access to learning materials and social services, receive the critical supplies and support they need.
Prolonged school closure has affected children’s ability to learn and poses long-term consequences for children’s well-being, especially for young children from the most excluded and vulnerable groups.
“The first six years of life are the most important period for the child’s growth and lifelong learning as children’s brains develop most rapidly during this period,” said Kyungsun Kim, UNICEF Representative for Thailand. “Therefore, any disruptions of play, stimulation, and learning during this period will negatively impact a child’s development. We know that many early childhood development services have been interrupted due to the pandemic, meaning children’s physical, emotional and social development relies entirely on their caregivers at home. That’s why we came up with the idea of the Magic Box to help parents who lack resources and support them to play and read with their young children at home so that children will continue to learn and develop during this crucial period of life.”
Even before the pandemic, few parents were engaging their young children in activities that support their learning and development. According to the latest national survey, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 6) conducted by the National Statistical Office with support from UNICEF, only 6 in 10 mothers and 3 in 10 fathers engage in four or more activities that promote learning and school readiness. In addition, only 3 in 10 children under 5 years old have at least three children’s books at home. This situation is even worse among the poorest families.
In addition to distributing learning materials and critical supplies including hygiene kits, UNICEF is supporting Proud Association, a non-governmental organization, to organize recreational activities and carry out psychological first aid to help children and migrant families cope with stress and anxiety during the pandemic. In communities affected by COVID-19, trained migrant volunteers are conducting mental health screenings, providing self-care information and counseling to children and caregivers as well as referring them to appropriate mental health services.
Photo caption/credit: Children in Ban Paew District in Samut Sakorn Province play with toys and other learning materials in UNICEF’s ‘Magic Box’. With the prolonged closure of ECD centers in high-risk areas due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ‘Magic Box’ helps keep children engaged in learning activities with their caretakers at home. Photos: UNICEF Thailand/2021/Bundit Chotsuwan
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