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Reaching Safety is Just a Start

Once they are out of harm’s way, refugee children and their families need opportunities to heal, learn and thrive.

In partnership with UNICEF USA, Students Rebuild and Welcoming Refugee Project participants are unlocking transformational impact in mental health and psychosocial support for adolescent refugees in Jordan, Afghanistan, Ukraine and surrounding countries.

The Adolescent Kit for Expression and Innovation is one of UNICEF’s most flexible and effective resources to support adolescents' growth and empowerment to cope with trauma and stress, using art, innovation and creative expression. The Adolescent Kit’s curriculum focuses on skills development, creating outlets for play and creative expression, and providing psychosocial support by processing some of their experiences as young people today.

With support from the Students Rebuild Welcoming Refugee challenge, UNICEF is increasing use and impact of this powerful intervention for adolescents in Jordan, Afghanistan and those fleeing from the war in Ukraine.

“The activities were easy, simple and fun…I learned how to express my emotions in several ways and how to solve conflicts because those times were hard, and conflicts raised because of the stress” – Asmaa, 14, Adolescent Kit participant in Jordan

Right now, nearly 37 million children worldwide are displaced due to conflict and violence, a number not seen since the Second World War. And this number does not include those children displaced by poverty or climate change or by the search for a better life. Nor does it include those children displaced in 2022 due to the war in Ukraine, which itself has caused the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

These children need the world’s solidarity and support. Children exposed to conflict, natural disasters and other humanitarian crises can suffer severe psychological and social consequences. For adolescents, severe distress and exposure to traumatic events can lead to various harmful outcomes, including alcohol and drug abuse, low self-esteem, health issues, poor school performance, self-harm and suicide.

UNICEF Jordan has been successfully using the Adolescent Kit for many years in refugee camps and communities. These activities offer adolescents the chance to express themselves, experiment, solve real problems, and explore new ideas. In the process, adolescent girls and boys are able to develop key competencies and new skills that help them cope with stressful circumstances, build healthy relationships, and engage positively with their communities.

“I will teach these activities to my friends and we will take action ourselves for things we wanted to improve in our community” – Maria, 13, Adolescent Kit participant in Jordan

Looking at the scale of the refugee challenge, one thing is clear: No one can tackle it alone. And, reaching safety is just a start. Once they are out of harm’s way, refugee children and their families need opportunities to heal, learn, work and thrive. But together, UNICEF, Students Rebuild, the Bezos Family Foundation and all Welcoming Refugee participants are giving adolescents the chance to rebuild and to reach their full potential.

“I learned a lot; I changed a lot; and most importantly, I want everyone never to lose hope because there is always some good in people” - A.A.R.N, 15, Adolescent Kit participant in Lebanon