But there's another, equally important benefit that one charity, with whom Pier32 have been proud to work, is bringing to the kids of East Africa.
The ability to play.
East African Playgrounds (EAP) are a UK-based charity that understand that play is an essential part of the healthy upbringing of any child. It stimulates learning, and unstructured play enables kids to develop problem-solving and socialisation skills that will serve them well as they grow up. And, after all, the UN Convention On The Rights Of The Child puts it clearly in Article 31:
Children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities.
|The volunteers of Team Buwenda, 2014. Nice t-shirts, guys!|
EAP work principally in Uganda, investing in the development of a dedicated team of local playground builders. They're supported each summer by 150 student volunteers from places like York (where the charity was founded in 2009). The local touch is vital: it's essential that the communities that will receive playgrounds are involved in its construction from breaking the ground to the first scamper across fresh monkey bars. EAP understand that a playground isn't just for the kids: it's a clear sign of community cohesion, a meeting place and focus for the parents of the kids that use it.
EAP build playgrounds to exacting international standards, designed to be durable and long-lasting, so that they don't become unsafe over time. The construction teams spend time talking to the community and, most importantly, the kids, to ensure that the playground meets their needs and gives them everything they're hoping for. It's essential that the final build includes facilities for the four elements of play that children use to understand the world around them and develop life skills: Active, Game, Free and Imaginative play.
|The colourful playground at Mustard Hill Academy, one of EAP's recent builds.|
The playgrounds use recycled materials like tyres whenever they can, while ensuring a sturdy and above all safe construction ethic. They work closely with the communities and schools that will use the playground, making sure that ongoing care of the project is considered once the build is complete. The onus is on building a community resource that will help generations of kids to play, have fun and grow.
Here at the Pier, we couldn't be happier to help a charity who are doing such important work, and focussing on an essential element of a child's life that often gets sidelined in charity work.
To find out more about East African Playgrounds, and perhaps to get involved yourself, check out their website, that will also tell you more about the importance of play.