Teaching Physical and Psychosocial Health
My name is Nehad Omar, and my health class is one of the important classes provided to 4-8 year-olds at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO) in Nablus. Health is about more than healing; it can be defined as the ideal condition of wellness. The main objective of TYO’s health class is to provide a safe place for children to improve their physical and psychosocial health. In class, we teach children how to take care of themselves in healthy ways—including lessons about hygiene, nutrition, and self-expression. This is not always the first time the children have encountered this information, but their knowledge of healthy habits needs to be enhanced to help them build healthier routines. Moreover, health class helps to raise children’s self-confidence. As a result of their strengthened knowledge and self-confidence, we have witnessed many children stopping some of the unhealthy behaviors that they displayed when they first came to TYO. This class also helps children to be more expressive about their feelings and dreams for the future. I would like to share the story of a child whose success story has deeply impressed me.
Mohammad Arafat is a child living in Old Askar Refugee Camp. A Palestinian proverb says, ”A beautiful feather isn’t enough to make a beautiful bird,” and Mohammad is without doubt a beautiful bird. He only needs beautiful feathers to be able to fly.
When I first talked to Mohammad to get to know him, I got the impression that he was really sad. That was later confirmed when he talked about his life and dreams and what he would like to be when he grew up. All of the children listened to him in silence as he sang, “I hid a tear in my eye and my sadness in my heart,” part of a popular sad song. Then he started telling his story about his father who passed away from a heart attack in front of him. He told us that he wished to be a doctor in order to help people like his father and save them from death. He also wanted to be a doctor to earn money to help his family live with a good standard of living. In the weeks that I have known him, Mohammad has never sung childish songs; he always prefers to sing those sad songs. When I asked him why, I was shocked by his answer: “These songs express me.”
Mohammad, who is only 8 years old, shared all of that. He is a Palestinian bird who used to live in darkness and silence, unnoticed until he came to classes at TYO. By providing a safe place for Mohammad to interact with other children and adults, we hope to not only positively affect his physical health but also provide a place for him to heal. We know this child is a candle who can light all the darkness around him.
Nehad Omar is one of TYO's Core Child Program Teachers.