According to a detailed report on playgrounds in a poor section of Bangkok, Thailand, “Studies show that play has profound development benefits for children.” J.L. Frost (2006), a prominent researcher in child development, feels strongly that:
On no other educational or child developmental issue is the body of evidence clearer–play is essential to the healthy development of children and to their adaptation to their culture, society, and world.
That is one of my excuses for spending some of my time in Uganda constructing playground equipment. Other reasons include:
- Playground equipment is relatively easy to construct and I’m not much of a builder
- Contruction materials like pipe, towing strap, chain, and old tires are relatively easy to find in-country
- The kids enjoy the equipment; the stuff gets a lot of use (some of our commercial grade swing seats have had to be replaced)
- On a more personal note, it makes me happy; I get the feeling that I’m making the world a better place
Now that we have constructed playground equipment in approximately 10 locations throughout Uganda, we have to start worrying about maintenance. The Thai report lists several common repair issues:
- broken tow straps are a common, reoccurring problem
- protruding bolts can cause abrasion problems
- wood components can cause splinters with kids who play barefoot or in flip-flops or sandals (which is almost everybody)
- water pooling inside tires creates an ideal breeding ground for mosquitos (malaria is a serious problem in Uganda)
- swing seats (wooden) can break where the bolt holds the wood to the chain
- exposed concrete footings are a tripping/toe-stubbing hazard
This points out that do we not only need to construct equipment, but we also need to work out a maintenance schedule/plan with our sponsors.