A Sderot teacher’s song has empowered area schoolchildren to deal with the fear of Kassam rocket attacks, integrating forms of relaxation therapy into a children’s diddy.
Shachar Bar, an art therapist who teaches in Sderot, became increasingly alarmed after seeing the thousands of children of the western Negev suffering the cumulative effects of trauma due to the ongoing barrage of Kassam rockets by Gaza terrorists. Teachers reported the fear and panic being heightened each time the recorded alert “Color Red” sounded, giving students 15 second to run for cover.
“Children experienced real developmental regressions, some began bedwetting,” she said. “They were getting hysterical when the alarm sounded – some freezing in place, unable to seek cover. One day I felt like ‘now is the time’ and I took this song I'd made up to a kindergarten class.”
The song begins with the children mimicking the alarm system, chanting “tzeva adom, tzeva adom,” Hebrew for Color Red. (The original alarm was “shachar adom” (red dawn), but children named Shachar were reportedly being affected socially and the municipality changed it.)
“[By mimicking the alert system] we touch slightly upon this threatening thing in a playful way, while in a safe, protected place with people we trust,” she explains. “That is the introduction.”
The song continues, with children seeking cover as they sing:
Hurry, hurry, hurry, to a protected area
Hurry, Hurry because now it’s a bit dangerous
“Running to our safe areas or ducking under the table, depending on where we are, coincides with the song,” Bar explains. “There is a fact: it is dangerous outside and we must seek shelter.”
My heart is pounding, boom, ba-ba, boom, boom, boom
My body is shaking, doom, da-da doom, doom, doom
“I am giving validation and legitimization to my fear and my body’s reactions,” Bar explains. “It is OK that my heart is pounding, I am even singing about it. It is OK that my body is trembling – I am afraid. Along with the words ‘boom-boom’ and ‘doom-doom,’ the movements of arms crossed and pounding on our chest borrowing from the EMDR method of treating trauma and anxieties. The movements help to break out of it and dissolve the anxiety, improving the mood.”
But I am overcoming
Because I am a little bit different
…The impact…boom – now we can get up
“Again, we remain in the reality,” Bar says. “We hear the impact and we can get back on our feet and begin with the release.”
Our body we shake, shake shake
Our legs we loosen, loosen, loosen
Breathe deep, blow far
Breathe deep, now we can laugh
“We breathe deep and release - a yoga method, even a yoga laughter method when we release the laughter,” Bar says. “Laughter releases endorphins into our brain and into our entire system.”
The song concludes: It all passed and I’m glad it's over – Yes!!
Bar says the song has spread throughout Sderot and the area kibbutz and moshav schools as well. “The joy that the children display there with the release…Once they learned it they were asking to do it again and again. Suddenly they had a tool to deal with all this, that they could hold on to.”
“The words help you think logically and be a little less afraid,” fourth grader Yiska Yifrach of Kibbutz Sa’ad says.
Illana Madmoni, a second-grade teacher at the Kibbutz said that it used to break her heart to have nothing to say to comfort the children during the silence between the Color Red alarm and the impact. “There was fear in their eyes the moment the alarm went off. The void during that alarm, where everyone was silent and they were just hiding there helpless. Now they are not only less afraid, but the actions and movement empower them and they feel they have overcome the attack and are moving forward.”
This story is based on a short documentary filmed for the Joint Distribution Committee by Yoav Shoam. For more information, email: [email protected]