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How Play Therapy with Worry Eater Dolls is helping Syrian Refugee Children

posted on October 11 2017

Little Citizens is delighted to be a part of the Friends of Syrian Refugees - Worry Eater for a Child Project.


Buy a doll at the subsidised price of £10, they retail at £26. Include a note and we will deliver it to a child in need. Just click here, chose your doll, enter WELCOMEREFUGEE and we will ensure the dolls are delivered to the Syrian children arriving in Northern Ireland.


Little Citizens donates Worry Eater Doll Toys to Syrian Refugee Children
Alicia from Little Citizens delivering a recent batch of dolls to Emma Tolland for her Friends of Syrian project.


Every month a few dozen Syrian Refugees are welcomed by Barnados in Northern Ireland. The Charity along with Emma Tolland's organisation Friends of Syrian Refugees help the incoming families to find homes, learn English, connect them with jobs and raise money and donations to help make the transition a little easier.


Amazing amounts of bicycles, clothes, books and the wonderful Arabic/English dictionary have been donated. 


Recent haul of fundraising and donated good for Syrian Refugees.
Here's a picture of one recent haul. 


Emma Tolland took this project on and in only a few months she has proved to be an indomitable force, she has faced the challenges of fundraising for the Syrian Refugees with the same professionalism and sensibility she was known for as a BBC Current Affairs Producer. She has connected communities, in the process helped families and demonstrated that with a little effort change for the better is possible, I am so proud of my friend.  


In only a few months she recruited Tefl graduate students at Queens University to create a specific curriculum for the kind of English that is most helpful for a refugee when they arrive in the country. English that can help them fill out forms, enrol their children in school, get health care, sign contracts and seek employment. Essential English to make the first few days, weeks and months a little easier. These Tefl courses are now being offered to the incoming refugees smoothing a path to their new homes.


Name Tags from English Arabic lesson for Syrian Refugees
Name tags from a recent language class for the incoming refugees translating names between English and Arabic 


While we continue to raise funds for more Worry Eaters as new children are arriving every month-- you can order one here. We are so grateful for everyone's help this far. Together the generosity and the words of encouragement and welcome have moved me. One of my favourite welcome messages I read was: "Wishing you Peace and Laughter." So simple and so true.


The message of welcome and the way the Worry Eaters are received, we're being told their making a huge impact. Denise Quinn, Play Therapist from Barnados, has generously shared how they incorporate the Worry Dolls into welcome the children of Syrian Refugees in Northern Ireland. Thank you Denise!


"When the children arrive in NI we have designed a 5 day play to learn programme within the welcome centre to help the children settle and become familiar with what life might be like in NI for them.  We talk to the children about what their new house might be like, what their new school might be like, the people who help us, and how to be a good friend.  Each child is given a workbook to record their feelings, worries and hopes for the future.


Central to the work with the children is focusing on their feelings.  The children are undergoing a massive change and are encouraged to share how they are feeling, both positive and negative.  The culmination of the play to learn programme are the worry eaters.  Each child is given their very own and encouraged to give it a name.  it is explained to them that their worry monster is just for them, and it is their job to feed them with worries and other feelings.  On one level the children light up when they see the 'teddies' but as the session progresses they  begin to understand the magic of the worry monsters.

Part of my role is to do a follow up visit to all the children once they are settled in their new home.  The children are excited to show me their worry monsters and to tell me how they have been feeding them.  Parents have advised what a great idea the worry monsters are and that they wished they had one too! 
Some of the children require a number of further visits, and during these we utilise the worry monsters to help the children express their feelings.
The worry eaters have been, and continue to be, an invaluable theraputic tool in promoting the positive emotional wellbeing of the refugee children.  They can assist the children to express their feelings when English is not their first language, and also to encourage them to share their feelings with their parents, teachers, and other supportive adults.  They are such a worthwhile and meaningful gift and make a real difference to the children." 


-Denise Quinn, Play Therapist at Barbados


Undeniably the best gift is seeing the smiling faces of some of the children at the receiving end.


Syrian Refugee Children with their bikes
Here's a photo of a few kids with their new bikes, printed with permission of their parents. 




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