A Child Friendly Space after Earthquake in China

by Save the Children Federation
A child plays at a Child Friendly Space
A child plays at a Child Friendly Space

"I hope to have a space to play with the other children here."

6-year-old Li Z. expressed this wish after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan Province on April 20th, destroying his family’s home.

Your contributions have made Zixin’s hope of finding a safe and healthy post-disaster environment possible. Countless Chinese children and their families have been served by Save the Children’s Child Friendly Spaces after this and other recent disasters in the area.

The earthquake hit Sichuan Province, collapsing more than 186,000 homes and destroying roads and infrastructure. Save the Children arrived in Jingkou village just two days after the earthquake. The team responded in the hardest-hit areas, providing families with health and hygiene kits, lanterns and other supplies, as well as opening child-friendly spaces where children can recover, learn and play.

Recently, seasonal floods accentuated by tropical storms Soulik and Cimaron have affected over six million people in ten provinces across China. In Sichuan province, at least 68 people have died, with 179 missing and over 600 square miles of agricultural land damaged. Save the Children has responded to the needs of worst-affected families with toiletries, towels, children’s clothes and other essential items.

Then this week, on July 22, two strong earthquakes hit Gansu province. The first was a dangerous earthquake with a shallow depth of 6 miles; a second 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck just hours later. Save the Children's emergency teams are working to provide assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable in the region.

With your help, Save the Children has provided these communities in China with shelter, food, water and other relief supplies. Additionally, these specially equipped child-friendly spaces allow kids to play and express their feelings about what they have endured under the supervision of caring, trained adults.

Thank you again for your support of this project.

Two sisters from a remote village in Baosheng town
Two sisters from a remote village in Baosheng town

It was not a typical Saturday for the children in Sichuan, China. Instead of enjoying a weekend morning, a 7.0 magnitude temblor rocked the province, causing buildings to collapse and roads to be blocked due to debris and landslides.

At least 180 people have been killed in the most affected areas of Ya’an and Lushan, children among them. Over 160,000 children are seriously affected. According to the UN, 99% of homes in Longmen Township have collapsed, and it is estimated that 245,000 people have evacuated their homes.  

Rescue workers dove straight into action, trying to pull as many people out of the rubble within the first 72 hours, also known as the golden hours for rescuing quake affected people. In Chengdu, where Save the Children’s closest field office is located, tremors were felt but little damage was sustained. Despite having families to care for as well, staff immediately arranged to go into the field to assess the damage and impact on the most vulnerable children and their families in the worst-affected areas of Ya’an and Lushan.

Roads have been blocked due to debris and landslides. Electrical lines are down and mobile communications signal poor in some areas. Wet weather has also been predicted by weather forecasters in the coming days. Mudslides and flash floods are also possible with heavy rain in the mountainous areas. Temperatures are expected to fall to as low as 13 degrees Celsius at night. 

It is going to be a very distressing period for young children, especially those who have been separated from their parents in the chaos, or who have lost their homes and playgrounds and had school interrupted. They will almost certainly require a safe place to play, learn and talk through their experience in order to regain a sense of normalcy again.

Save the Children is working around the clock to reach vulnerable children and their families. Staff, alongside government relief personnel, is on the ground providing immediate relief assistance. To date, we have reached nearly 900 people. We are working in remote and hard to reach villages in Longmen and Baosheng Townships, sometimes arriving on foot, providing household and hygienic items to displaced families in desperate need of basic supplies.

Beyond this immediate relief, we will be continuing to assess the needs to rehabilitate schools and families’ abilities to regain their livelihoods. Ensuring that children receive psychosocial support is also critical. Your support can help Save the Children set up a signature Child Friendly Space,  where more than 500 young girls and boys can play, socialize with each other, and participate in other supervised activities to help them recover and regain a sense of normalcy. 


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Organization Information

Save the Children Federation

Location: Fairfield, CT - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.savethechildren.org
Project Leader:
Jenna Cluver
Westport, CT United States

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