Hesperian Health Guides
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Building a playground is an activity that can help children and community members learn to work together. There are some simple things that make play areas fun for all children. Then children who cannot see well will not feel left out. The ideas suggested here will be enjoyed by all the children in the community.
Building a Playground
To build a playground, it is best to use local, low-cost materials and simple construction. The playground will give children and parents a chance to try different playthings. Whatever works for their child, a family can later build at home, at no or low cost. For this reason, a playground made of tree limbs and poles, old tires, and other 'waste' materials is better than a fancy, expensive, metal playground built at high cost.
A Playground For All
Ribaralta is an isolated town in Bolivia. Because of bad roads, it takes 30 hours to drive from Ribaralta to the closest city. It is a poor town. There is no water system, and many of the people who live in Ribaralta do not have electricity. A group of parents of children with disabilities had begun meeting every 2 weeks. They discovered that they had become experts about their children's needs.
Because they had learned so much about disability, they wanted to educate the community about children with disabilities. They decided to build a 'playground for all children' that would bring disabled children and non-disabled children together through play.
The parents' original idea, which they thought would take 3 Sundays of work, became a much bigger project as people began to think of more ideas for the playground. They got businesses and farms to donate bricks, nails, wood, and trees. The finished playground included a fence, benches, trees, and playground equipment made from local wood and used tires.
- Involve as many people in the community as possible in building and maintaining the playground. The playground must be cleaned and repaired regularly, and this will require planning and organization.
- Keep the playground simple and build it from local, low-cost materials. This way, people can copy the ideas and build equipment for their child in their own homes.
- For poles that are put into the ground, use a kind of wood that does not rot quickly. Paint the part that will be underground with old motor oil, tar, or other insect- and fungus-resistant substances.
- Swings can be hung from ropes or chains. Ropes are cheaper but may rot or wear through quickly. Plastic or nylon rope will not rot in the rain but it will grow brittle and weak in the sun.
- Check the strength of poles and ropes frequently by having several heavy people pull on them at one time. Replace the ropes when they first start to weaken.
- Make sure that children are included in the playground design, construction, and maintenance. Much of the work can be done by children with adults to guide them.