Category Archives: Empower Playground Inc.

Hearts of Play Go Global

Well PlayGroundology readers where do we see ourselves on the naughty or nice scale as we enter the Christmas season? I know that I’ve had a few questionable behaviours over the course of the year that may be getting looked at askance by that red-suited, twinkly-eyed, cookie-snacking guy…

Hearts of Play ReduxPhoto source – Leland Francisco. License – (CC BY 2.0)

In the hopes of spreading some good cheer and making up for my transgressions, I’m dusting off and sharing an updated version of the Haiku deck, Hearts of Play, that I put together a couple of years ago

The act of freely giving time, money, or goods, is always a sure fire means of enhancing one’s niceness stock regardless of faith origins. I hope that the Hearts of Play Haiku deck will encourage readers to consider giving a gift in support of kids and play. Think of it as one love, one heart, one play….

Without further ado, five groups doing great work in communities around the world. Nota – none of the five groups are aware of this post.

Playground Ideas

Playground Ideas II PlaygroundIDEAS. Photo source – PlaygroundIDEAS

Playground Ideas is a not-for-profit organization that designs and builds play spaces for the world’s most disadvantaged children. They support communities to create play spaces where there are none. Their open source designs and collaborative approach empower communities to create public play opportunities that invites local engagement. Their passion for play has taken them to Africa, Asia, South and North America, New Guinea and beyond. Founder Marcus Veerman recently presented at TEDxMelbourne.

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East Africa Playgrounds

East AfricaEast Africa Playgrounds. Photo source – East Africa Playgrounds

East African Playgrounds is a Registered Charity in England and Wales (1129244) that aims to change the lives of children across East Africa by developing children’s learning opportunities and environments. We work alongside local communities to build simulating and exciting playgrounds, run arts and games programs as well as developing long term employment and training opportunities for young people across East Africa.

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Pop-Up Adventure Play

Pop UpPop-Up Adventure Play. Photo source – Pop-Up Adventure Play

Pop-Up Adventure Play imagines a time when all children have access to child-directed play in communities of supportive adults. Their work is grounded in a Pop-Up Adventure Playground model providing children of all ages and abilities with opportunities to recognize, explore, and express their natural play instincts… on their own terms. Pop-Up Adventure Play is a registered charity in the UK (#1148987). Since this deck was originally posted, this dynamic team has criss-crossed the USA, done a world tour and written a book

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Playground Builders

Mak Play Not WarPlayground Builders. Photo source – Playground Builders

Playground Builders creates playgrounds for children in war-torn areas. There is often no safe place for children in these communities to play. Most have never experienced the joy of a swing or the thrill of a slide. We at Playground Builders are dedicated to building hope and peace through the gift of play. Playground Builders is a registered Canadian charity: #852810019RR0001.

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Empower Playgrounds Inc.

Light up the NightEmpower Playgrounds Inc.. Photo source – empower playgrounds

Empower Playgrounds Inc. enhances educational opportunities for children in Ghanaian villages by providing renewable energy through electricity-generating playground equipment, smart LED lanterns and hands-on science kits. Empower Playgrounds is a nonprofit, tax-exempt registered 501(c)3 registered in the USA. In October of this year, the group released Lighting the Night: Mirabell’s Story available for viewing on Vimeo here.

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While writing this post, I received the following from the Pop-Up Adventure Play crew, a little pre-Christmas serendipity.

Pop-up tweet

The original Hearts of Play Haiku deck can be found here. Happy giving from PlayGroundology….

Hearts of Play

In both religious and secular celebrations, giving, goodwill and peace are Christmas mainstays. For kids it’s an incredible time, a wondrous dance of merry magic dream makers feverishly anticipating the arrival of Père Nöel, Sinterklaas, or Old Saint Nick. The air is infused with hope, friendship and play.

Beyond our own homes and communities, out there in the wider world, there are those who on a daily basis act with hearts of play. My thoughts gravitate to these Pax Ludo envoys at this time of year because their mission – helping kids to explore and experience the joys of play – is so closely aligned with Santa’s selfless journey of giving.

If you are looking for a good cause to embrace, consider for a moment one of these fine organizations in Hearts of Play (click through for version with full notes).

Enjoy this time for reflection, giving thanks, and family.

NEWSFLASH, this just in – PlayGroundology’s first Haiku Deck, The Book of Play has received a ‘hai 5’ and is in the running for best Haiku Deck in the Pure Wow category. Check it out, VOTE for PLAY and share it with the hashtag #hdbestof2013.

Hats off to Haiku Deck who make storytelling a breeze. Cheers

Giving the Gift of Play

Gift of Play

Any time of the year is a good time for giving. But if this season speaks to you in a special way, consider giving the gift of play.

There are organizations around the world that help make play possible for kids. Here are a few whose work is both compelling and inspiring.

Northern Starfish (Canada)

In Canada, a barely into his teens Wes Prankard is working hard to make a difference. Northern Starfish, an organization he created, is working with First Nations communities across the country. His first engagement involved raising funds to build a playground in Attawapsikat, in northern Ontario. Three years later, playgrounds continue to be an important focus of the organization’s work as he explains here to the Assembly of First Nations.

Recently, Wes carted over 1,000,000,000 pennies he raised to a bank in his hometown as part of a campaign to the build 20 playgrounds across the Canada’s north. Click here if you would like to give Northern Starfish a hand.

Playground Builders (Canada)

From his base in British Columbia, Keith Reynolds and Playground Builders have built 116 playgrounds since 2007 in The Palestinian Territories, Afghanistan and other war-torn areas of the world. Keith gives a first hand account of the organization’s work in this Canadian Broadcasting Corporation national news interview.

Playground Builders is a registered charitable organization in Canada. The organization has both a Canadian and US foundation. Click through here if you are interested in supporting their work.

Playground IDEAS (Australia)

Marcus Veerman had an idea about kids, play and community empowerment. From his base in Australia, Playground IDEAS has worked and played with communities and kids throughout Asia, Africa and South America using indigenous and recycled materials to create colourful engaging playspaces. Just watch here and you’ll see what I mean.

Click here if you want to help Playground IDEAS build a “world of intelligent, happy, resilient children prepared to take on the complex challenges of the future”.

Empower Playgrounds (USA and Ghana)

Ben Markham and his team at Empower Playgrounds tag their work as lighting the world through recess. Markham is a retired ExxonMobil executive now bringing his talents to bear in Ghana, West Africa. Kids at play becomes energy that lights homes and schools.

Click through here for information on how to support the work of Empower Playgrounds.

East African Playgrounds (UK and Uganda)

East African Playgrounds was founded by two Leeds University students, Tom Gill and Carla Powell, in 2009. Volunteers have built playgrounds primarily in Uganda and Kenya. Here is the story of one of their early builds.

As far I have been able to determine, they are the only playground group who have had someone pledge to fundraise for them by doing handstands 365 days of the year. Julie Dumont has been on a handstandathon this year in a variety of venues. You can see some of them here in this article from The Telegraph.

Click through here for more on helping to support the work of East African Playgrounds.

This is just a small sample of of people and organizations doing good work in support of play. In communities throughout the world there are local activities and builds taking place that frequently are in need of financial or volunteer support. Keep your eyes open for opportunities. A newish kid on the block is crowdfunding as this item from BBC News London explores.

Remember anytime is a good time to give the gift of play. Merry Christmas from Halifax, Canada.

Round and Round, Up and Down Brightens Up Africa

Play is power. It’s the power to generate electricity, the power to pump water. The right designs can make play double up as work for up and down, see-sawers and spinny spin roundabouters.

Empower Playgrounds Inc.

In Ghana West Africa, Empower Playgrounds are as they say, ‘lighting the world with recess’. All the tireless playground energy is captured to burn bright as sun falls into night.

For the kids it is a whirl of fun and laughter. See for yourself.

This is exactly what Ben Markham, a retired Vice-President of Engineering, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, had in mind when he started play to around with an idea that turned out to be very illuminating.

Find more about Ben, his team, Empower Playground Inc. and their partners here. I’m sure this transformative play for light would have received the Kwame Nkrumah and E.F Schumacher seals of approval…

PlayMade Energy

The Energee-Saw, pioneered by the UK’s Daniel Sheridan, was initially tested in Uganda in 2008. A revised design was tested in Malawi. This video shows PlayMade Energy’s Energee-Saw in action PlayMadeEnergy in the world’s least electrified continent.

Kids will be able to study longer as a direct result of their own hard play. It may take a village to raise a child but apparently it takes a child to light the way.

PlayPumps

I was introduced to the PlayPump earlier this week and thought it was a marvelous piece of utilitarian fun. That’s sure what it looks like in this 2008 report from the National Geographic Society.

It turns out that an appropriate technology that took regions of Africa, aid organizations and foundations by storm wasn’t in fact the best fit, the most efficient, or least expensive solution to help promote and create water security.

There is some difference of opinion now as to the PlayPump’s efficiency and efficacy. Many financial supporters have backed away from the project and villagers have requested a return to the handpump.

PBS did a documentary on Frontline World in June 2010. It’s available for viewing here.

Harnessing kids’ energy through play is a great idea. Let’s hope it continues and benefits the kids who are providing the fun equity.

P.S. – thanks to Neil who got me thinking about writing this post.