The Journey of Life workshops on social connectedness will empower participants to help children to deepen and widen the connections they have with other people in their families, peer groups and communities. This is important work. Well-being, and especially the well-being of children, depends on positive connections with other people. Being connected with others means that people do not have to face life’s journey alone or without support. Being connected also helps people to fulfil their rights.
REPSSI has produced guides for the workshops which are available for download and reuse.
Why is social connectedness so important?
In all stages of life, people need meaningful bonds and relationships with others. This is a deeply human need. New-born infants, growing children, young and mature adults alike, as well as elderly citizens nearing the end of their journey through life all need the recognition and care of other people. When the need for human connection is not satisfied, life’s journey is lonely, bleak, risky and sometimes even destructive. Feeling all alone in the world can destroy a child’s self-worth and hamper their wellbeing and development.
Children’s psychosocial development depends on the number and quality of relationships they have with others, in their families, peer groups and communities. Through their interactions with other people, children learn to speak and think. The quality and kinds of social connections they experience also shape the development of their sense of self and their respectful sense of others.
Meaningful relationships are a foundation for social cohesion. They help children, as well as older people, to value others and to feel valued by them. They enable a sense of belonging to a community that children can trust and care about. Social connectedness also gives them access to the opportunities, services and resources they may need on their journey through different stages of their lives.
Across Africa there are longstanding indigenous ways of nurturing social connectedness and a sense of belonging. Storytelling, song, ritual, prayer and community events are just a few examples. We encourage you to explore which practices in your own communities might help to build children’s social connectedness and so contribute to their well-being and the fulfilment of their rights. We wish you well in your community dialogues and in shared commitment to support the well-being of children in your community.
Synergos’ Social Connectedness Program in Southern Africa was established in partnership with and with support from the Samuel Family Foundation, and includes our work with REPSSI. It is part of an emerging movement for social connectedness begun by Kim Samuel and led by the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness, bringing together a growing, committed community of practice and networks of individuals and organizations around the world.