Chunhui Children’s 2023 Summer Camp

In July this year, Chunhui Children’s seven-day (18-24) summer camp themed “ Meet a Different Me” took place in Pinggu District of Beijing. 26 children from rural at-risk families and 10 children from ordinary urban families of Guizhou province and Tongzhou District, Beijing spent a terrific week there.

Since 2021, Chunhui Children has hosted three summer camps, once a year. In the camps, the children, including some with special needs, learned to recognize themselves, appreciate others, and make each other better in supportive loving environment carefully designed by Chunhui Children’s counsellors. In the seven days, they developed great friendships and made remarkable progress in such areas as self-recognition, emotional awareness, peer learning, teamwork, and communication skills.

In 1994, UNESCO began advocating for inclusive education. Over 2000 years ago, the great Chinese educator Confucius proposed "education without discrimination", which has three interpretations. The first is that education should be accessible to everyone regardless of their origins, abilities, nationalities, or backgrounds. The second is that the teachers should treat every student equally. The third is that every child should be able to develop their potentials through education.

As Chunhui Children’s program initiator Zhao Wen put it, fairness is about giving children with different backgrounds the same opportunities to experience, learn and grow. In our summer camp, the children had such opportunities, and they were encouraged to recognize their own uniqueness while appreciating differences.

(The children were enjoying themselves on the lawn)

In the camp, inclusive education was demonstrated in three ways:  

First, Integration of children from different backgrounds, some from rich or ordinary families and the others are from rural at-risk families. 

Second, integration of typical children and special needs children.

Third, integration of children of different ages. 

We designed different experiential courses for the young campers. The "Biological Appreciation" course, for instance, inspired the children to pick up leaves and identify their differences. Through such explorations, the children came to realize that like leaves, there are no two identical persons in the world, and everyone is a unique existence. We need to recognize ourselves and respect differences. Courses like this ran through the entire camp.

(Counsellor Yao Juan gave a lecture on leaves)

 (Handcraft at night)

In the past ten years, we stayed committed to inclusive education, which kept bringing wonderful changes to the children.

In the camp, we facilitated role plays, “housekeeper”, “judge” and “diplomat”……

The “housekeeper” took care of everyone's daily needs, including cleaning and preparing teaching aids…… The “diplomat” is responsible for collecting ideas and making speeches on behalf of his/her team. Children with special needs did everything in their power to assist the typical children. When one of them, a child with intellectual impairment fell ill, he told his counsellor: "I feel so sick. It’s a pity that I can't serve my pals anymore.”

The children’s confidence and abilities improved. Typical children took care of those with special needs every time and everywhere, helping them with meals, communication and outdoor exploration…... Although from different backgrounds, they all had a great time together.

(The children demonstrated themselves at the “Praise Myself” session)

In the class themed “praise myself”, Lee, a girl from an ordinary urban family said with frustration: “I don’t think I have any merits.” At her words, some children from at-risk families praised her: “Your hands are beautiful”, “your eyes are charming”, “you are kind and brave”……Inclusive education benefited both the disadvantaged children and typical children. They experienced love, fulfilment and recognition. “The summer camp of Chunhui Children is different from those I attended before. Rather than simply teach me skills, Chunhui Children’s summer camp helped me learn to respect, appreciate, and support others,” said Yao, a girl from a typical urban family. 

In the "Emotion Awareness" course, the children learned how to recognize emotions, how to handle negative feelings and how to communicate when they feel dissatisfied. These practical communication skills will serve as a walking stick that helps them navigate their future uneven paths.

The children were making final preparations for a challenging group game. (This game required the children to play different roles based on their own strengths and work together to complete their tasks)

Fun with squirt gun, table games and DIYed food at night. 

From these enriching sports games, the children learned to try, accept failures and start all over again. 

On July 21st, the uploader "KeMaKeMa" from Bilibili platform came to the summer camp too. One day, she agreed with the girl Jiajia that they would visit Tsinghua University together. Jiajia is a child of Chunhui Village Program in Guizhou province. She was deprived of parental care and has been living alone since 10. Although she is tough in appearance, deep down she is lonely and fragile. With the help of Chunhui Village Program, she began to get out of her plight.

Zhihu counsellor was answering questions from the children)

On July 22nd, seven family relationship counsellors from Zhihu, one of China’s leading Q & A platforms, were invited to the summer camp to take up questions from the children: “Why do single-color patterns look great? "" Why do summer days last longer? "" What should I do if I have a conflict with my parents? " "Why does mimosa close its leaves? " One of the counsellors said: "This kind of summer camps are great. If there are more opportunities, I would ask my own children to come too.” "Inclusive education is very important for both typical children and those with special needs, but many parents refuse it because they do not understand it or do not know how to prepare their children for it. But I think charitable organizations like Chunhui Children can bring this concept to the general public so that more children could be benefited,” said the leading counsellor of Zhihu. 

(Professor Zhao Wen was talking to a young camper)

A 7-day summer camp could not bring about ground-breaking changes, because transforming a child takes a very long time. But Chunhui Children will always stand by these young vulnerable lives for as long as they need us. We will create a nurturing environment for them and help them achieve their dreams.

Society and the public are like sunshine, soil, and water nurturing the children, and without everyone's support, no changes will happen. We welcome you to join us in promoting inclusive education. Let’s work together to create a more tolerant social environment for special needs children and at-risk children to integrate and thrive. In the future, we hope that more children from ordinary families could participate in Chunhui Children’s summer camps, where they will have special experiences, meet different peers, and get new friends.

On the morning of the 24th, the campers hugged each other and bid farewell. Yao Juan, manager of the summer camp, said, "The annual summer camp will be a fond memory of the children and will have a great impact on their life. They will remember how someone they met in the camp appreciated them, and how they learned to solve the thorny problems confronting them. In Chunhui Village Program, our professional social workers are based no more than 10 km away from the at-risk children. They consistently follow up on each child's everyday life and academic performance, deliver regular activities, invite at-risk families and their children to our program centers, help them establish positive relationships and get ahead in life.