Written by Aisha, United Nations Volunteer
Growing up as a shy kid wasn’t easy. I wasn’t the type to walk up to someone and say “hi” first. I was the type that’d hide whilst secreting hoping someone would talk to me first. I didn’t have a lot of friends; I had a small circle that I was grateful for.
“The one thing that brought every kid out and together regardless of financial status, skin color, religious orientation, or what work their father did was play.”
The one thing that brought every kid out and together regardless of financial status, skin color, religious orientation, or what work their father did was play. Every one of us loved playing different games. The most popular games back in my home country of West Africa were Ten-Ten, Oji-Oji (hide-and-seek), Catcher, and so many more. Being an active kid, I loved the outdoors and playing with my friends. This was my forté - I was happy. Of course, my mother didn’t think so as my grades suffered as a result. My father was more passive. I was a kid, kids love playing, the end.
Whilst being shy in other areas of my life, the shyness disappeared when I was out playing with the neighborhood kids. We would play, scream, tease and laugh. It was exhilarating! On the playground, we were one. Every other preconceived notion vanished like the morning sun. Looking back, those were the happiest times of my life. I had no worries, no big responsibilities, and no deadlines to fret over. Life was perfect.
“On the playground, we were one. Every other preconceived notion vanished like the morning sun.”
In psychology, there’s something called the Inner Child. It is a part of us, the child in us, that never dies. It is why when we’re going through difficult times as adults, we tend to look back at the fun times we had as kids. Each one of us is capable of retaining our Inner Child. It’s in all of us. It could be an activity we liked doing as a child, that made us extremely happy, that in our grown-up states, we still do it. This is why it’s important we provide an avenue for kids to have a good childhood, with room to be just kids and play as much as they want to. When they’re all grown with mortgages to worry about, or that overbearing boss, they have something to look back on, a memory where they were irrevocably and explicitly happy.
I have taught both elementary and high school kids. Boy! They were a handful. I struggled with getting through to them, at first, because I was a bit rigid. What my experience has taught me is that adults - just like kids - always respond to playing games. Playing affords a relaxed, non-serious atmosphere that facilitates letting down of guards and one being more receptive. My childhood shenanigans helped me out once again. Play for Peace’s objectives resonate with me because I have seen how important playing is as a destresser, a recreational activity, and a way of bonding with people of different backgrounds.
“Play for Peace’s objectives resonate with me because I have seen how important playing is as a destresser, a recreational activity, and a way of bonding with people of different backgrounds.”