Keeping Kids Physically Active in Jordan

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How We Helped 1.4 Million Quarantined Children Stay Healthy

Every Tuesday during the lockdown, children across Jordan turned on their television set to the Ministry of Education’s academic channels. Then, they started flexing, stretching, and counting. The Ministry of Education channels didn't only broadcast traditional lessons, they brought Right To Play’s play-based methods into the homes of over 1.4 million children across Jordan for three days each week.

At the start of quarantine in Jordan, Right To Play collaborated with the Jordanian Ministry of Education to create a series of exercise videos for children in grades 1 to 6, and a second series for grades 7 to 12. The videos focused on exercises and activities that help children cope with stress, burn off energy from being cooped up, and develop a positive relationship with their bodies.

A Right To Play Coach demonstrates simple exercises to help Jordanian children stay active and manage their stress

“Uncertainty caused by COVID-19 affected kids tremendously in Jordan. It affected their psychological well-being. Kids were used to having direct interactions with teachers and friends, and that was all lost,” says Lara Obeidat, Right To Play’s Country Director for Jordan.

Keeping Jordan’s children active

Children in quarantine are four times as likely to develop stress-related disorders like depression and anxiety from social isolation and familial stress. Regular physical activity is one of the simplest and easiest measures to help boost children’s emotional resilience.

Jordan’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the swiftest and most comprehensive, leading to only 1,200 cases and 11 deaths in a population of 10 million. Jordan’s school closures meant almost 40% of the population suddenly had their educational routine disrupted. The closures have had a serious impact on children, disrupting their education, isolating them from their peers, and limiting their ability to be physically active.

“Kids were used to having direct interactions with teachers and friends, and that was all lost.” – Lara Obeidat, Right To Play Country Director, Jordan

After lockdowns began, the Ministry of Education launched three television channels for different grade levels to deliver tele-lessons to children. After the channels launched, they identified a need for material focused on physical activity to help children concentrate, improve their mood, and maintain their physical health.

To create that content, they turned to Right To Play, with our expertise in combining play with learning. Right To Play Jordan had already been running a remote summer camp for Jordanian children that encouraged them to stay active despite the lockdowns.

What’s next?

Right To Play has joined the Ministry’s Enrichment Council, a group of NGOs including UNICEF and local organizations. As part of that, our Jordan team will be creating videos that support learning in subjects such as science, English, Arabic, and mathematics for grades 1 through 10. The Ministry of Education will be continuing tele-lessons using these videos when schools reopen in the fall to provide an enriched education experience for student. Our new collaboration is rapidly increasing the scale of our work and helping us reach more Jordanian children than ever!

Lara, Country Director, discusses our Jordan team’s response to COVID-19