With schools closed and families isolated, SAT-7 is fast becoming a “one-stop shop” for children and parents needing support for their wellbeing. From encouragement and activities for children, to help with home education and parenting advice – the network is making the difference for families under pressure.

“During this time of the coronavirus, we cannot go out. But we can still do positive things at home with our families. Sometimes life is difficult, but on this program, we will learn together how to face our difficulties and be strong and confident.” – Marianne Awaraji, SAT-7 KIDS

Presenter Awaraji encouraged children with these words on Hello Marianne, a new weekly live show launched on 21 April specifically to support children through the coronavirus pandemic. “Hello Marianne seeks to give children feeling frightened or vulnerable a sense of security by allowing them to connect with one of their best-loved presenters,” explains Nicoletta Michael, SAT-7’s Development Manager. Children can call in to share their thoughts and feelings, sing with Marianne, and ask her to pray for them. The show also includes a segment with a children’s psychology coach, who gives simple tips to reduce anxiety, boredom, and stress.

Many of the children who called in during the first episode shared that SAT-7 KIDS’ support since beginning of the pandemic has already made a difference. Asked what she has been doing at home, Dani from Syria says, “I read the Bible and sing praise songs, especially the ones that you sing, Marianne. I love you all very much.” Similar responses have been received by other programs, including Chato.

Hello Marianne is a flagship element of SAT-7’s support for families during the pandemic, which is holistic and spans its four channels. To help children stay positive and productively engaged, the Arabic-language SAT-7 ACADEMY brand, together with Right to Play Lebanon, has adapted rounds from the gameshow Puzzle for families to play at home. The games are shared on social media along with guidance and adaptions for more challenging environments, such as refugee camps. For younger Arabic-speaking children, clips from the magazine show Bloom Boom, which promotes peaceful, positive values, are also being shared on social media. ”The content will provide viewers with a sense of normality and escape from stress,” says Michael. “It includes engaging games, educational segments, art activities, songs, and celebrating children’s’ birthdays from home.”

A similar approach has been taken by the live program Golden Advice on SAT-7 PARS, which is continuing with its usual positive, hopeful themes to help ease children’s anxiety, while offering activities to keep Farsi-speaking children occupied at home. Hashtag, a live SAT-7 PARS program for youth, is also helping viewers channel anxiety into practical actions, such as making homemade face masks. SAT-7 TÜRK Kids, meanwhile, is setting challenges that encourage children to show love and be a positive influence.

A second important element of this response is support for parents. The Coach, a SAT-7 ACADEMY parenting counselling program, has continued to broadcast live on SAT-7 ARABIC and is receiving a very strong response. Six episodes have been dedicated to parenting during a pandemic, on topics such as talking to children about the virus and helping family members express their feelings. To help parents deal with home-schooling challenges, the education support program Follow Up has been going live every week from presenter Dr Nada Mouawad’s home, where she gives advice on distance learning and helps with the curriculum children have been set.

In addition to these initiatives to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of children and families in isolation, SAT-7 is also offering health information, education, and spiritual support.

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