OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Play for Peace

Uniting Myanmar communities to build vibrant education-based playgrounds from re-purposed and renewable materials

Photo of Genevieve
36 14

Written by

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The Play for Peace project mobilizes communities to build low-cost and simple, yet dynamic and fun, playgrounds that are safe and easy to maintain. This highly customizable program is applicable to different situations around the world, with current focus on Myanmar, a dynamic country full of beautiful and diverse populations of people. Myanmar is also a country divided by numerous ongoing ethnic and religious conflicts in multiple regions, each in varying degrees, resulting in severe human rights violations and over a million displaced persons. Identifying ideas and values that everyone can unite behind is essential to creating a feeling of common ground, paving the way for successful communication, interaction, and peacemaking. Parents of all ethnicities, religions, and genders want the best for their families, and this project brings them together to create something unique and inspiring for the benefit of their children. This focus on children provides a second wave of peacebuilding to the project. Children observe their community practice unity and cooperation and then use the playground to put these same concepts into action as they interact with their peers of different ethnicities and religions. Project Highlights: 1. Local Myanmar team assesses communities, liaising with them, identifying leaders, explaining the project, understanding their desires and dynamics, and creating customized roll out plans 2. Communities organize and collect primary materials such as bamboo, used tires, paint, basic hardware, sand/gravel, and other readily available resources for their project 3. Team works with each community to construct the playground (average 3-4 days), training individuals and organizations interested in replicating the process, involving members of all ages, genders, and skill levels 4. Team and community inaugurate the playground, complete with associated educational curriculum for teachers and manuals for maintenance 5. Children play

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Beneficiaries are the members of the target communities across Myanmar struggling with the challenges of finding mutual understanding amid the ongoing political and cultural clashes. Focus will be placed on rural communities and to the extent possible, internally displaced persons. Children ages 2-12 will be the primary users of the playgrounds. Their benefits will come in the form of: • Observation of community adults modeling cooperative behavior • Observation of innovative use and reuse of materials • Safe space to play and interact with a diverse group of peers • Safe space for resolving conflict and learning to share through play • Educational benefit of specially designed play equipment Adults, young and old, will also be key beneficiaries when they: • Work side-by-side with other members of the community toward a common goal • Develop innovative ideas and learn new construction techniques

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

This approach offers an opportunity for meaningful participation to every member of each community. Adults and children of all ages, genders, and abilities can play an active role in the process. The playground itself is simply the vehicle for the community to interact in natural ways for common goals; first coming together to build it, and second while the children and teachers use it. The design of each playground incorporates educational components so that not only are they fun, but they allow teachers to teach outside of the traditional classroom setting. Curriculum and lesson ideas go with the project that touch on traditional academics as well as themes of health, environment, and community. The same features invite enhanced creativity when the children play together on their own. Additionally, the idea is easy to replicate and is more than a one-time activity, it is a visual and lasting reminder of community unity, and it benefits both current and future populations

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Play360 trains organizations and communities to build low-cost sustainable playgrounds as a means of improving education throughout the developing world.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Our first Myanmar playground was built in 2014 as part of a leadership development program for 20 local youth. It was held at a Buddhist monastery school and we were nervous about the potential for conflict with our Muslim students (due to country politics). Instead, we were overwhelmed by visions of unity as the team worked side-by-side toward a shared goal. Those first students have gone on to replicate the project in their communities and from them was born the idea to scale.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

PEACE is promoted through this project through building mutual understanding in a country suffering intense internal conflict: 1. Community members from diverse backgrounds work side-by-side toward a common goal 2. Children from diverse backgrounds play together and learn to share, compromise, and have fun with one another PLANET is being protected by utilizing renewable materials and creating secondary uses for materials that currently go into landfills or are burned 1. Community works with bamboo as a sustainable building material 2. Children and community develop creativity in repurposing objects such as tires and plastics PROSPERITY has been affected by years of dictatorship and is supported through skills training, improved education, and enhanced critical thinking . 1. Skills provide an economic opportunity for anyone interested in developing a business to replicate the process 2. Creativity and innovation are taught to children through concept modeling and curriculum

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Our partner is Noor Education and Community Center, located in Bago, Myanmar, established in 2014 by members of the above-mentioned leadership program. Noor is a respected and growing organization focused on “Developing the Human Potentials of a Community by Quality Education” and offers a broad range of community outreach and education programs. Noor will identify and hire one local Director and four project Supervisors (to do the grass roots implementation). Project Supervisors begin by identifying points of contact in each community who will liaise with the local population to help them understand the idea of the projects and encourage participation. A project can only be carried out if there is sufficient engagement and enthusiasm among the community. Each project relies on local volunteers coming together to complete the actual construction. This successful model has been the backbone of Play360 activity because it puts decisions in to the hands of the community.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The concept of helping others is intrinsic in Myanmar’s culture, placing it second in the world for charitable participation. Despite ongoing conflict, individually the country is full of people generous in spirit, giving this project an increased chance for success. Past projects have demonstrated communities willing to give time, materials, food, and labor to these projects. Additionally, from a resource perspective, there is a surplus of used tires which allows for donated building material

Geographic Focus

Myanmar – multiple regions across the country, focus on rural multi-ethnic or multi-cultural areas.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

This is a 24 month project split into three phases Start-Up (4 months), Action (16 months), and Evaluation (4 months). The 16-month Action phase will be split into two project cycles with a 4-month evaluation and adjustment period between them (during the summer rainy season). See attached timeline for details.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Chloe Varelidi

hi @genevieve what a great idea and implementation. We have been looking at the same problem within refugee camps, how long does usually implementation take? And what is the average cost for each playground?

Photo of Genevieve

Hi Chloe - what a great project you're working on - I love it! We have recently been doing research on the value of play in mending post-traumatic stress in children and would enjoy trading resources on the topic. The answer on how long implementation takes and how much an average playground costs is of course: it depends.
The very short answer is that the average construction takes around three days for around 8-10 pieces of equipment, some simple and some more complex. The amount of lead time for a project varies, but honestly, with a good partner on the ground it can be pulled together within a few days if the tires and other resources are available. Our projects often have a time/price balance... we can do them quickly but that usually drives the price up because there isn't time to look for best prices, donated materials, etc. The price generally ranges from $300 to $3000 based on which pieces are built, how many of the materials are donated, the local price for things, and how much transportation of materials in involved. We have been working on a $500 standard playground, but this requires finding used tires locally, minimal cost to transport things, donated materials such as paint, and volunteer labor from the community. We have a lot of really fun designs that require almost no cost at all (for example, the tire garden is one of the most simple, fun, educational, and easy to maintain designs... and is virtually free).
Within or in addition to this forum, we would love to look at partnership opportunities with you. We have a special place in our hearts for refugee communities and will gladly share any resources we have that would be useful to your project... or we can talk about piloting one of our playgrounds in one of your locations together. Our whole goal is to train organizations to replicate the process (the cost of the playground goes down rapidly when implemented locally).

Photo of Chloe Varelidi

hi Genevieve thanks for the detailed answer, that is great that you involve the local community. We started the project thinking that the solution is designed more for speed, so for example within 48 hours of a crisis being able to send the playground to a camp and have it set up immediately. But i really like your approach too. I d love to connect further and likewise share resources. It's such an important issue and not as many people are paying attention to it, so its lovely to meet and work with likeminded humans :)

Photo of Genevieve

Hi Chloe - I've been thinking about this over the past couple of weeks and then yesterday I drove by a local school where we did a different type of project a few years ago because we couldn't build traditional climbing structures and only had a day to work... and you popped into my head. We have a number of designs for things that can be made from everyday objects... and while much of it can be found with a determined search on pinterest, we have had a lot of trial and error. I would be interested in working together on ideas for your playground in a box... especially depending on how large the box could be, and if it would need to be exactly the same for every project or if you could modify it a bit depending on the location. I have a lot of ideas zinging around and would be happy to brainstorm together soon (or later this summer... I know things can get hectic!). But in the short term, let me know if you have any parameters for the box you would like to be able to send to a camp (i.e. size, weight, price-point... also if it needs to be the exact same every time... and if it needs to include everything for the playground or if it could include some local resources depending on what is available). Based on these I will send you some thoughts I have brewing!
All my best,

Photo of Chloe Varelidi

hi Genevieve, let's do it! I just got some samples from our factory so would love to talk materials and other ways to work together. I m actually heading to Greece in July- where are you based? Not sure if we can DM here but feel free to email me at chloe [at] humanswhoplay [dot] come to find a time/date. Warmly, Chloe

View all comments