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Ukrainian children fleeing war will receive copies of a local children’s book that teaches them how to deal with trauma.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/03/2022 (322 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ukrainian children fleeing war will receive copies of a local children’s book that teaches them how to deal with trauma.

The illustrated book, written and designed in Winnipeg, is called Big Feelings Come and Go. It has been translated into Ukrainian after Russia’s attack on the neighbouring country and is being distributed to families with young children who are escaping to Finland.

The Winnipeg-based Canadian Centre for Child Protection teamed up with New Directions, a local non-profit youth and family services organization, to produce the book in 2018. The centre is partnering with Finnish child-protection agency Suojellaan Lapsia ry to give an initial run of 2,500 copies to Ukrainian children.

Noni Classen of the Canadian Centre of Child Protection with a book that has been translated into Ukrainian to distribute to kids affected by the war. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Developed by therapists, it explains the body’s fight, flight and freeze reactions to children as young as four. The book was originally meant to be used by local therapists to give children simple ways to cope when they are overwhelmed and scared.

It quickly became more popular with schools, non-profits and health agencies across Canada, with its cartoon animals that depict kid-friendly basics of deep breathing and mindfulness. The book was translated into 11 languages, including Russian. This is the first time it’s been translated for Ukrainian readers, said Noni Classen, director of education at the centre for child protection. It was one thing the centre could do to contribute to international aid.

“We’ve seen the effectiveness of this book, of how many children it has helped cope through really traumatizing situations, and now we’ve got these kids having to live through the emotional burden of a war,” she said. “We feel really honoured to be able to make this book available in some capacity, if there’s something we can do to help them have some strategies for coping.”

For kids in Manitoba who might be absorbing news of the war, Classen said it’s important for parents to make sure they provide age-appropriate information and share current events on a “need to know” basis. Children need to keep their daily routines and be reminded they are safe and comforted, she said.

Despite best efforts, they might be inadvertently exposed to what’s happening in the world.

“That can be very overwhelming, and they are unable to process that information. So, it’s important for families to check in with them to see how kids are making sense of the information, because they have incredible imaginations, and they can make things up in their heads… (that) can often cause them a lot more anxiety,” Classen said.

Parents and older family members need support, too, especially for the many Manitoba families who have relatives in Ukraine and direct ties to the conflict.

The children’s book teaches youth how to deal with trauma. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

“Their parents also need people and professionals that they can reach out to, to be able to take care of themselves during this time, because it’s incredibly stressful and devastating,” Classen said.

Big Feelings Come and Go is available at http://wfp.to/QlF.

katie.may@winnipegfreepress.com

Katie May

Katie May
Reporter

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.

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Updated on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 7:20 AM CDT: Adds photo

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