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Cards that work when words fail

In an ideal world you would put all your cards on the table to solve an argument, so a Maltese couple have come up with an innovative idea to do just that. Together with almost 30 volunteers, Joanna and Julian Sant Fournier designed a pack of pictorial cards that can help anyone – including children with communication difficulties – to come to terms with their emotions and reactions.

The cards can be used like dominoes because one card depicting an action can be linked to others showing reactions and, eventually, to those illustrating consequences, thus creating a chain.  Educators can come up with alternative activities using the Friendship Cards. A teacher introduced a ballot system to the game, with students voting on the best possible reaction to solve a conflict. With funding provided through the Social Impact Award, the Sant Fourniers are distributing the card sets across the island.

They launched what was themed as the Happy Children initiative and 60 teachers were trained to use the cards with children. About 1,000 sets will be handed out to children by the end of the year and these can be used with friends and relatives at home. Why do cards work when words fail? “Sometimes, discussing an issue face to face indirectly places the problem on the other person you are in conflict with. But when you lay down the cards, you are transferring the problem onto the cards and, rather than adversaries, the two in conflict collaborate on a solution,” Mr Sant Fournier said.

The cards provided guidance on how one could express one’s feelings and understand the options to resolve the issue. “Research has shown that children who can do this reduce the possibility of resorting to violence later on in life, build stronger friendships and improve academic score,” the Sant Fourniers said. The idea for the Friendship Cards developed from the Couple Cards, which the Sant Fourniers
came up with after years of voluntary work with the Cana Movement.

The cards, which have been translated into various languages, help couples open up through a series of questions that can trigger a discussion.

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