Friendship at the Lighthouse
Writing: Elodie Buob, Special Education Teacher at The Lighthouse
Translation: Courtesy of Charlene Lee
The Lighthouse Children and Families hosts up to 12 children every day. They are among different age groups, ranging from babies to young adults reaching adulthood. Some of our children have met through other institutions while others became acquainted with each other during their stay at the Lighthouse.
Friendship is uncomplicated for our young children: we play, we joke, we share things that we like. Sometimes we quibble when we want the same thing, but we feel valued and appreciated. This makes our head, heart, and body feel good.
Children accepted at the Lighthouse all need palliative care. However, the fact that the children have fun and evolve in a socially rich environment benefits their health. Did you know that being surrounded by friends and living meaningful interactions help in releasing endorphins? These hormones act like natural opiates produced by the brain and alleviate stress and pain. Like morphine, having good friends and having fun allow them to fight and reduce certain discomforts!
At the Lighthouse, friendship pervades no matter the conditions of the children. Whether it's an organized activity or spontaneous games, children come in contact and develop affinities. Verbal and non-verbal friends share beautiful moments. We throw a ball, travel in the same cart, share a digital tablet, hold hands: all those quick and franc moments allow our children to form bonds. The older children sometimes take care of the younger ones: this increases their sense of responsibility and value. They love to give others what is usually given to them.
Through friendship, the children develop attitudes that help them cultivate their sense of belonging and ability to make friends, which reinforce self-confidence, autonomy, empathy, and respect towards others. Friendly exchanges allow them to discover new interests and meet new acquaintances. Thus, friendship also has a considerable impact on the development of intellectual aptitudes.
Friendships at the Lighthouse Children and Families are useful, beneficial, and beautiful. Don’t we wish that all friendships are this way?