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Friday 23 September 2016 | Published in Regional


FIJI – Thousands of children in Fiji who survived the horrors of Cyclone Winston are still severely traumatised seven months on.

This is according to UNICEF and the Oceania Football Confederation who wrapped up six months of child oriented relief work in Fiji recently.

More than 10,000 children were reached by “The Just Play Emergency Programme” across twelve of the most affected areas of Fiji.

The initiative promoted emotional well-being through sports and helped children learn and practice good hygiene, healthy eating, emergency preparedness and other life skills.

UNICEF’s Pacific representative Sheldon Yett said it also provided a space for Children to safely share and reflect on the emotional impact that Cyclone Winston had on them.

“Talking to one child – she was very, very open about the impact of just seeing her family disappear. Her housing and her belongings just disappeared out the door.

“And kids remember that, the psychological impact of huge events like this remain long after the event itself falls off the front pages.”

While the official programme has ended, more than 385 volunteers who trained as coaches over last six months will continue to work with children in their communities.

The Just Play Emergency Programme was recently shortlisted for the Beyond Sport Innovation Award, with the winners due to be announced on October 20, this year in London, England.