Projects Abroad volunteers build a safe playground for Jamaican children to learn and play
In many rural Jamaican schools, children spend most of their day in overcrowded classrooms with no access to safe, outdoor play facilities. To address this issue, Projects Abroad volunteers began with the construction of a playground at Christiana Leased Primary School in Sedburgh, Jamaica. It will be the biggest playground in the area and the first to be fully equipped to cater for children with physical disabilities. This playground will be completed by the end of July 2017 and will serve 300 children, giving them the opportunity to learn and develop through play.
Projects Abroad is constructing the playground to assist children who are struggling to learn in overcrowded classrooms. Because of inadequate play facilities at local schools, the Ministry of Education in Jamaica has noticed that numeracy and literacy goals in local schools are not being met. “Many rural schools in Jamaica do not have playgrounds for their students and while children in some cases are allowed to play outdoors, the environment is unsafe for this practice,” says Kay Hendricks, Country Director for Projects Abroad in Jamaica.
Because some children have been hurt while playing in such environments, the Jamaican government has increased regulations and sanctions for school administrators, causing many schools to stop allowing children the opportunity for outdoor play. “As a result, learning is not as interactive as it should be, children are not adequately engaged, and physical activity has been severely limited resulting in the challenge of increased child obesity,” says Hendricks. The new playground will help combat these issues.
Play is an integral part of childhood development, as it teaches children social skills and improves physical and motor functioning. The playground at Christiana Leased Primary School serves three of the goals of Projects Abroad’s Care Management Plan by promoting Early Childhood Development, increasing the level of stimulation for each child, and improving the quality of life for those living with disabilities. The playground will be equipped with monkey bars, three seesaws, two swing sets, a slide, a club house, a rock climbing wall, a sand box, a hopscotch court and a tyre obstacle course. It is primarily going to be used by younger children, aged three to six years, who are at a critical stage in development, but older children will also have the opportunity to use the facilities.
The playground is primarily being constructed by volunteers from the Building Project, but volunteers from other projects have joined in with construction during their community days. “The volunteers have taken a leading role on the project, with input in design, measuring the plot, excavating, construction (wood, concrete and metal), and volunteers will paint upon completion,” says Hendricks. Even the parents of children at the school have been assisting with construction.
Children at Christiana Leased Primary School are looking forward to the completion of the project in July. “The playground is attached to the school so the children are aware of its construction and are super excited to start using the equipment,” says Hendricks. There will be an official handover and opening event in September when the school reopens after the school holidays.