Special Children change my life perception through the Just Play Programme

Arieta is a 26-year-old housewife from Waiyavi settlement in Lautoka who fell in love with the Just Play program from the first time she joined 3 years ago.

This is her story:
“Before joining the Just Play Programme, I was a housewife, and my husband was the sole breadwinner of our family. I always neglect special school children and always love to be in my world.

I was introduced to Just Play Programme through Master Imdad Ali my neighbor since I was three years old who is like a father to me.I always call him ABHA (dad).3 years ago he asked me to join the programme because he knew what type of person I am and the Just Play Programme could change me and I would be able to get some money for my family as well. My very first Just Play activity was when we visited Lautoka Special School where he introduced me to the children and later asked me to continue from where he left. I was speechless, and I didn’t really know where to start. Luckily Mr Imdad called me aside and told me this “WE ARE ALL HUMAN WITH DIFFERENT ABILITIES it’s only that we are special in our own ways. From then onwards, I decided to start believing in my own self and believe that we are all special in our own way.

Just play had changed my life from someone who is always against special need children and always treat them differently, I learnt that everyone is special and unique in their own different ways. At first, I felt terrible about myself as to how I used to treat special needs children. Now as a Just Play Coordinator and facilitator, I came to understand that we are all unique in our different ways and no one is perfect. I feel confident working and doing sessions with all different ages of special school children in the west. I gained confidence in talking to children and a large number of people in public. If I didn’t join Just Play programme, I would be still that shy housewife who always think of myself and not others especially neglecting special needs children and always think highly of my capabilities and not what others are capable of doing that I can’t-do.

Thank you to all those blessed special children whom I was introduced to 3 years ago as this statement will be part of my life and work “WE ARE ALL UNIQUE IN OUR WAYS, AND WE ARE ALL ONE DESPITE OUR DIFFERENCES”

I wish to also thank Fiji Football Association and Oceania Football Confederation and all its financial partners such as: The Australian Government, New Zealand Government, and UEFA foundation for children, Football Federation of Australia and UNICEF for this unique OFC Just Play Programme as it is changing children, families and our lives as volunteers as well”.

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Just Play extends reach in Fiji

The OFC Just Play Programme continues to grow and inspire in Fiji, with the Nasinu district preparing their launch of the programme following a Just Play course at Rishikul Primary School this week.

Fiji Just Play Project Manager Lavenia Yalovi was very proud to see the programme reach another district and is feeling confident about the rollout of the programme after working with the enthusiastic course participants.

“A total of 19 teachers and three volunteers from 10 schools and communities around Nasinu attended the two day Just Play course at Rishikul Primary school last week,” she said.

“All the participants were confident to promote healthy lifestyles, encourage social inclusion, encourage gender participation and set the right conditions for children to have a first positive experience in physical activity with just play.”

The Sport for Development programme was first launched in Fiji in 2010 and since then it has seen success in schools and communities throughout the country by training local teachers and volunteers and empowering them to lead the programme.

Further North in Fiji’s Cakaudrove Province, Losena Tituwere recently joined Just Play as a volunteer and after leading Just Play sessions in her village, Naboutini, Tituwere has become a strong advocate for the programme.

“I joined Just Play in April during the Savusavu Just Play Course because I love working with children. I work as a social welfare officer and when we would visit communities we normally focused our awareness on adults and had never used games before to deliver social messages to children,” she said.

“Before participating in the Just Play Programme I was a shy girl and usually afraid to talk to a crowd let alone a group of children. Just Play really changed my life, now I am confident to stand in front of a crowd.

“I feel great every time I am assigned to go to communities for work as I am able to speak in front of others and I’m also able to involve children in fun games and activities with messages related to my work scope as well.”

The OFC Just Play Programme was developed and implemented by the OFC Social Responsibility department alongside key partners the Australian Government, New Zealand Government, UEFA Foundation for Children, Football Federation Australia and UNICEF.