Monday, September 12, 2011

International Efforts to Build Safe Playgrounds in War Zones


It would be hard to find a rational person who would disagree with the idea that children all over the world should have safe places to play.

Organizations such as UNICEF and The Playground Builders Foundation have worked to provide children in war-torn nations with safe, accessible playgrounds.

Playground Builders, a Canadian nonprofit charity, has established a business "model [that] involves the use of a generic playground design and local construction, based on a competitive value bid system," according to the organization's website. "This simplified process ensures many playgrounds throughout conflict areas can be built effectively and efficiently. These special places provide safe spaces for laughter, hope and interaction for war-entrapped children in unstable and poverty-stricken areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories."

UNICEF's common practice is to build or rebuild schools and playgrounds in places ravaged by warfare. Part of its core human rights agenda recognizes the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts."

One example of UNICEF's work in conflict zones is the construction of "20 safe-play areas ... in the occupied Palestinian territory: 11 in the Gaza strip and nine in the West Bank," according to a 2006 press release available online. "These play areas provide an estimated 30,000 children with opportunities to meet, socialize and play in a protected environment."