“Looking back, it seems like my life has been planned by design. Everything I have learned over the years, business management, construction, automotive and industrial design, I have been using fully while building the playgrounds for the kids.”
And so Reza started to build playgrounds for unprivileged children around the world. He wanted kids to be kids. He wanted them to grow up playing and dreaming even if they were born as children soldiers, prisoner’s offsprings, or orphans in the underprivileged regions of the world.
Such a beautiful idea… but what does it take to build a playground for kids in these countries?
Over the years, TPOP has perfected the system for building a sustainable playground. The recipe for success has multiple ingredients which you will now discover:
First of all, each country TPOP goes to, always tries to connect with a local NGO, who has already done some groundwork there, to save time and resources. The local NGO usually knows which part of that country could use such a playground the most. A playground is built in an area that can impact at least 400 children where there are no playgrounds close by. Such an area includes orphanages, prisons, low-income schools, refugee camps, etc. Local NGOs can also help with securing free land for the playground, usually owned by the above-mentioned institutions. The idea is not to purchase land as its management would be rather difficult and it also saves more financial resources for the playground structures. Depending on the size of the land, the playground includes anything between ten to sixteen play elements.
We do not go with the notion that we know what they need. We involve the community, we offer them our services and we ask them how we can cater to their needs. Our projects are done through community collaboration
After the selection of the place, TPOP meets up with the kids and asks them how they like to play. This is very important as it helps the kids to spark their creativity. They can draw pictures about how they like to play without overthinking it. This way the kids become truly the designers of their playground. Allowing kids to design their playgrounds, will empower them and give them a voice to speak their minds and believe in their unique creativity.
To bring children’s playing ideas to life, TPOP has a catalog of about 1000 different tire structures and makes sure that every playground includes the following five aspects:
- Slide to bring the rush of going down;
- Swing to explore the back and forth motion;
- Monkey bars and other climbing structures to strengthen the body;
- Walk-on equipment to practice balance;
- Teadertoders to learn teamwork.
Kids’ age is always taken into consideration when designing a new playground to be able to include as many kids as possible. Sometimes a volleyball or football court will be built next to the small children’s playground for the older children and teenagers to hang out together.
When the final playground design is agreed upon, TPOP does a material breakdown and buys all the necessary pieces. Certain parts need to be welded together which is done in a local welding shop. After that, all material is sent to the playground job site. TPOP is proud that all its projects are completed through local force and local material. Through our project, we teach new skills and impact the local economies.
Thirdly, TPOP always includes local people, parents, teachers, and other volunteers in the building. It gives them a sense of belonging and ownership for the playground. The locals can be proud of building a playground for their kids which means they will always take better care of it too. And it is always a great way for the members of the local community to learn how to build structures. When the playground is built, kids help with painting it so that they can gain more real-life experience. And they love it <3.
After the build is finished a maintenance report is generated and a local person is chosen to take care of the playground. That way the playground can last eight to ten years, on average.
If the playground is built within an institution, like a school or orphanage, then this institution provides a report to TPOP on how the playground is being used and how the regular playground use impacts the kids’ development.
Fourthly, all the materials and workers are sourced locally. TPOP uses up-cycled materials such as cars and mainly tires. In most countries, piles of tires turn to mountains of waste. Getting used tires is not as easy in these countries as people use them to eg. make sandals or carpets (Uganda).
TPOP also trains its team of workers. These local workers can gain experience in project management, carpentry, welding, and team working. TPOP usually builds at least four playgrounds in each country which allows the workers to get trained pretty well and be able to look for other construction opportunities after. These trained workers are being paid a fair wage for their work as well which means they can support their families.
And lastly, the cost of the playground. This always depends on the country where the playground is being built and how big it is. But on average it is around CAD 20,000.
So, now you know everything about how a children’s playground in poor countries is being built. It takes a lot of preparation and some money. Not everybody has the time to take part in the preparation but maybe they can pitch in for the financial resources. If you feel like you want to be part of the next playground, you can donate here (link).
You can help put a smile on children’s faces.