PlaygroundIDEAS is a not-for-profit organization that designs and builds play spaces for the world’s most disadvantaged children. They operate with the help of international volunteers and funders, to help organizations and individuals create quality playgrounds for children all over the world.
“We do this because we recognise that while education is vital for all children, they need more than just a classroom to learn and grow to their full potential. Play is essential for children’s development, and it forms a fundamental part of a well-balanced educational curriculum”.
“We believe play need not be a luxury. Disadvantaged children need the opportunity to learn and play in a safe, educational, and fun environment – just like any of us would want for our own children”, say founder Marcus Veerman.
In a playground, there is much essential learning done that cannot be done in a classroom. Simply the fact that playgrounds are a creative space for children is an important start. Peer to peer learning teaches children to think for themselves, to problem solve, to manage conflict, to experiment and to be innovative. Research shows that when children are left alone there is a whole array of critical learning that takes place simply because adults are not around to supply the answers.
In the developing world where schools have few resources and often poorly trained teachers, this leads to low quality, ineffective teaching methods such as rote learning and ‘call-and-response’ teaching. A playground offers children a stimulating outlet from this, which anecdotally, has lead to higher rates of school retention and concentration, and interestingly, more creative teachers. When teachers see their students playing with such enthusiasm it encourages them to improve their teaching to get the same response.
For many years play therapists have known and used play for its therapeutic benefits to children. PlaygroundIDEAS has built playgrounds in many areas in the world where children have suffered torture and trauma as a result of wars, extreme weather and political unrest. Children use many forms of imaginative, creative and role play to express the emotions they have experienced which can help in the healing process.
A playground gives the the community the message that children are to be valued and have needs that should be allocated for and playgrounds are the perfect community spaces to bring people together.