October 13, 2008

Red Color Song - Trauma Intervention in Sderot

The Situation:

Since 2000, hundreds of Kassam rockets have struck the Gaza border region, claiming lives, damaging property, undermining businesses and incalculably harming residents' morale and psychological well-being. Normal life has been put on hold and everyone living in the region, from Sderot to Ashkelon, lives in constant fear.

Because the missiles fall daily, the Israeli government developed a warning system called ‘Code Red’ or Tzeva Adom. When a rocket is launched, a voice comes over the loudspeakers throughout the region saying “Tzeva Adom, Tzeva Adom”, “Code Red, Code Red”. At this point people know they have fifteen seconds to seek shelter. Fifteen seconds to stop whatever they are doing and find a place to protect themselves.

The stress of living under such circumstances is immense for an adult, to imagine what it is like for a young child is almost unfathomable. According to studies conducted in the region, 90% of children between the ages of 4-18 exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Children were afraid to go outside, to walk alone to school or even to take a shower, fearing the Code Red alert. They became hysterical at the sound. Often times they were paralyzed with fear and unable to run for shelter.

In order to help children cope with this constant tension, JDC’s Ashalim division, a partnership between JDC, the Israeli Government and the UJA Federation of New York working on behalf of children in Israel, developed a series of therapies, including the Code Red Song. This song, sung when the Code Red alert is sounded, teaches the children what to do when the alarm goes off, but also helps them deal with their emotional reactions to the sound and the situation.

The song combines lyrics that allow the children to express their anxiety and fear with hand and body movements that help distract their minds to something more positive.

JDC distributed CDs of this uplifting children’s song to parents and teachers. The song is taught and used in the schools and has quickly become a source of comfort for the children living in the Southern confrontation zone.

To listen to the song and hear from the children and teachers themselves, please watch the YouTube video above.

The Lyrics: (translated from Hebrew)

Hurry hurry hurry to a safe place
Hurry hurry hurry because it’s dangerous
My heart is beating – boom boom boom
My body is shaking – doom doom doom
But I am overcoming
Cause I am a little bit different

Falling down – boom
We may now stand up
We shake our body - shake shake shake
We loosen our legs - loosen loosen loosen
We will breathe in deep
We will blow out as far as possible
We will breathe in deep
We can laugh
It’s all gone
And I feel good it’s over

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