VIENNA, 20 November 2023 – The documentary “Play: Discover the power of play” was an uplifting film about refugee children whose lives were improved through play. The film, by Etienne Claret, takes us on a journey with professional snowboarder and Olympian Pat Burgener to meet refugee children in Lebanon who are growing up in difficult circumstances. Through "Bring Children to the Snow", a project initiated by the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS), in cooperation with the Lebanese Non-Governmental Organization, Right to Play, Burgener engages with the children in different fun activities, including during – for many - their first day of play in the snow in the Lebanese mountains. The film shows how the children gain courage and hope through various forms of play.
How play and play-based education can improve children's lives was discussed after the film with Andrew Cholinski, “Bring Children to the Snow” Coordinator at FIS, Graham Bates, Director of Football and Co-Founder of GEPS 20 Girls and Women Football Club, and Christoph Jünger, Executive Director of the Austrian Committee for UNICEF. The discussion was moderated by Martin Nesirky, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Vienna.
Reflecting on the significance of World Children's Day, Christoph Jünger urged everyone to think about their awareness of children's rights. "Children live in a world that is increasingly hostile to their rights," he remarked, “I regret that there is only one [day] … actually every day should be such a day.”
Graham Bates highlighted the role gender plays in sport and pointed out some of the obstacles that stop children each having an equal chance to play. Andrew Cholinski further underscored that children do not naturally create gender or racial barriers in their play: “It is actually us adults who end up creating these segmentations and these divisions […] kids keep it simple.”
Further emphasizing the pivotal role of play, Jünger concluded that it serves as a healing mechanism for children traumatised by experience, enabling them to learn and evolve into a different state of mind. Play also provides a secure platform for children to express themselves freely without frontiers.