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Invisible Children

If we look closely at the way the “space” in which we live, at home, in the neighbourhood and city, we will realize that everything is done with adults in mind. There are few secure spaces that are agreeable and motivate sufficiently our children to develop healthily, freely and creatively. The same happens with our time. The family timetable dedicates little time to conversation, outings and play with the children. We are very busy with work, or “serious” activities. Even the schools, thought especially for children, are organized with adults in mind. It seems that the children are “invisible” when daily lie is organized, even though we know that the effort of the parents and teachers are directed towards the children.

This way of doing things is aggravated by the crisis situation in which we live, which obliges the parents to leave home at an early hour. Children spend much time alone or on the streets, exposed to many dangers, without the care and protection that they need and deserve.

Hence, the importance of St. Bernadette´s Children´s Centre, created to offer children security and opportunities to socialize in an open and free atmosphere, as well as participate in formative and recreational activities that contribute to their development. In this Centre, the “space” and the time are in service of its boisterous and curious habitants. The dance, drama, martial arts, arts and crafts, self-esteem, games and computer workshops, as well as the study room, are always open to welcome those who freely and voluntarily choose to participate in them.

The teaching methods assumed by the staff are geared to promote autonomy and freedom, but to educate in this atmosphere is not easy. Each day brings new challenges and doubts. Here, children and adults learn that to be free supposes respect for others, that the norms allow each and all the facility to live together, that the interests of each one shouldn’t be an obstacle for others, that the problems and conflicts can be resolved in an intelligent way, and that the welfare is the result of the collaboration and participation of all.

Nevertheless, these methods don’t always coincide with those that the parents assume in the up-bringing of their children. This difference gives rise to contradictions, and most probably children and adolescents learn to behave according to what suits a given situation to either gain credit or avoid punishment. In being like this, they will not grow in autonomy, or develop a critical sense of self and others, but rather a dependency, trying to please those that have authority. They will learn that in life they can avoid facing up to conflict situations.

Because of this we are coordinating with the Women’s Centre close by, where a good number of mothers have children coming to us, with the proposal to share worries, to learn more about the children and to harmonize teaching methods. We think that by uniting our efforts we can sufficiently modify mistaken beliefs and attitudes about children and parents, and therefore, help both to improve relations and mutual respect.

In our first meeting we identified the problems that are most worrisome to the mothers, and our next step is to develop workshops to consider related aspects of the development of children, methods to promote values, suggestions to help in homework, and ways of guaranteeing them security in the streets. Together we want to find solutions to the problems that effect the children most in the local area, and encourage the local community to take concrete steps that make the children “visible” in the organization of daily life, not only in the family, but also in public “spaces”, knowing that they are the greatest wealth of the society.
Nora Cépeda García

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