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Play for Peace

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

Photo of Genevieve
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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. www.play360.org

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

38 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Chloe Varelidi
Team

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
Team

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
Team

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
Team

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,
Genevieve

Photo of Chloe Varelidi
Team

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

Photo of Gina van der Ploeg
Team

Hello!

It was wonderful to read through your application and what you are doing is really incredible. I work with Our Workshop , you can check out our application here: Our Workshop: Making Togetherness . We are based in Cape Town, South Africa and have found that making things in collaboration is truly an incredible way to teach and learn compassion and tolerance. A project like yours would go down very well here, where many of the parks and play structures are falling apart and dilapidated! We also work primarily with waste materials and would be so interested in installing your kind of play area near Our Workshop as we have so many children coming to us in the afternoons after school who don't have somewhere safe to play. Perhaps in the future we could speak about a collaboration, I'm sure we have lots to learn from you!
I see that Emily Kruger who is also based in South Africa has sent you a message =) shows how much your kind of working would WORK here!

All the best =)

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Hi Gina - thanks for reaching out - I love the collaborative work that you are focused on as well... I think we should definitely look for ways to work together - whether it be sending you designs and implementation plans, or heading over to hold a training workshop, or anything in between! I would love to see more of your designs as well, we're always looking for ways to improve the work we're doing, especially ideas for reuse into useful items that complement the actual playground equipment. This is my first time here on this site, I assume that the messageboard continues to be accessible after the deadline and we can find each other - but just in case, we can move the brainstorming to email at some point if needed: genevieve@play360.org.

Good luck with everything - I look forward to looking for areas of overlap and collaboration!
Genevieve

Photo of Emily Kruger
Team

Hi Gina!
I'm based in Washington DC...perhaps you thought South Africa because I used a photo from one of our programs in SA last year. We have partners in 53 countries and no official HQ although we are mostly based out of the US.
Just read through your submission and love the idea of making things together as a way to build bridges. Shared spaces that are free/public but also organized and intentional are super important. Do you see any challenges to getting people in the space? I'm curious what your outreach/publicizing efforts would look like? I think this will be the biggest challenge with our idea!

Photo of Gina van der Ploeg
Team

Thank you! Yes, we are focusing on sharing design processes in pdf format over whatsapp which we have found to be the best way to communicate in South Africa. I look forward to sharing our design processes too!

All the best =) Thanks for me email address!

Photo of Gina van der Ploeg
Team

Emily! That's very funny, don't know why my brain just went to SA, perhaps also because of your surname! Also looking over your proposal now, I didn't actually look at it. I think I may have actually just associated you with a different, local proposal! Oops! Too many tabs open!

We have encountered some difficulty in getting people into the space, simply because Guga S'Thebe the government-run cultural center in which we are based is often avoided by locals because its where all the tourists go! However, we have found that putting up actual posters in the spaza shops near us has helped a lot. Townships in South Africa are community based, people know their neighbours and people chat. Word of mouth has actually been our best way of publicising!! Yes, as with your idea, is it difficult to plan for numbers, we have prepped for workshops and put all our resourcecs in and then only a few people com, but it definitely gets better as Our Workshop has become more of a familiar name. I think finding methods of communication that are specifically used in your context is the best way to go - for us its whatsapp and word of mouth!

Thanks for the message, and sorry about the confusion!! Haha!

Photo of abubakar Mbarak
Team

wow!
this is a great initiative.
keep it up.
i love what you are doing

Photo of Emily Kruger
Team

Hi Genevieve!
I would love to connect the folks you know in Myanmar with the people we know in Myanmar. We have two partners that believe in play (specifically sport and soccer) as a wonderful tool for peace and prosperity. Let me know if you're interested! Could be a great connection since we and our partners have some very unique content (check out our BridgeBuilder idea to see example curriculum) that helps facilitate learning through play-based activities...although I honor that building a playground and free play on the structure are impactful on their own without intentional facilitation!

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Hi Emily - yes, we would absolutely be interested in connecting with more people in Myanmar - and offering them our connections as well! Are yours located in any specific area of the country? I really like the curriculum you shared, while yes, the intrinsic value of play is there, we also offer the teachers a "curriculum" as well that has active learning activities for them to get out of the classroom with the kids. I would love to look into crossing over some of your activities with ours (I will reach out to you before doing so). I think we potentially have many areas for overlap and would love to explore possible projects together. The beauty of what we're doing is we can partner on so many levels, from sharing resources so an organization can create their own project to showing up to physically train an organization and build a playground... and everything in between. We have a partner in South Africa that we have been interested in working with on inclusiveness in play and building a universal playground together - maybe we can find some overlap.
Thanks for reaching out - I hope to speak with you more!
Genevieve

Photo of Emily Kruger
Team

Let's take this to email Genevieve! My contact info is in my profile. I'm happy to reach out to you but I don't see yours listed. Let me know :)

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Great - yes let's do! You can reach me at genevieve@play360.org

Photo of Gaby | Catholic Charities St. Paul & MSP
Team

Genevieve,
This is a wonderful project idea! Great job describing its intersection across all three results.
A few questions on the outcomes of the project. How many playgrounds have you and your team succeeded in building? How many children have benefited from the playgrounds? How many playgrounds do you aim to build during the 24 month period?
All the best,
Gaby

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Good morning Gaby - thank you for the feedback and for the questions! Since 2010 we have built about 35 primary playgrounds (projects that we are directly involved in) in 13 countries, and have tracked around 70 secondary playgrounds (those built by other people after attending one of our trainings (primary playground builds). Four of those primary playgrounds have taken place in Myanmar, one per year since 2014, and we count 10-15 of the secondary projects are there as well, but it's hard to track accurately beyond that first one as people scatter. We calculate anywhere from 200-400 children (average number in each school) benefit from each playground the week it is built, and that number grows as new children enter school. So, using a conservative 400 children over the life of a playground and 100 playgrounds, we estimate our current impact to be around 40,000 minimum benefited. For the current project, our initial thinking is to build a total of 64 primary playgrounds... built by teams of 4 local supervisors, trained by Play360 but in charge of the local implementation. The project will roll out in two phases, the first work phase will be 12 weeks, during which time 2 teams of 2 supervisors will each implement one project per week for 24 total (this is a realistic projection, most of our projects take 3-4 days and are led by one experienced staff member). There will be a break in implementation during the rainy season, giving us time to evaluate and adjust before phase two, which will last 20 weeks, on the same schedule of one project per team per week (for an additional 40 total).
Thanks again for your questions, please let me know if anything sounds unclear, or if there are elements to my answer that you think I need to be sure are included in my proposal that this phase (note: some of the above is included in the timeline attached to my proposal).
All my best,
Genevieve

Photo of Gaby | Catholic Charities St. Paul & MSP
Team

Genevieve, Thanks for the clarifications and added detail. Your project sounds wonderful and very well thought out. Best of luck to you and your team!

Photo of Samantha Pathirathna
Team

Hi its interesting. I really like this simple and fun innovation. Can you please further elaborate that in what way you make sure peace through this intervention. Good Luck Samantha

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Hi Samantha - thanks for the feedback! We see peace happening in two ways: first with adults and the current generation, second with children as the future generation. In our experience, the benefit of a playground to a schoolyard is something that everyone can agree on and appreciate for its intrinsic value... and in our projects we see families across the communities come together to work toward a common goal. Hosting this project in diverse and divided communities provides a project that everyone can get behind and work on together, creating familiarity and mutual understanding, and even forging friendships. Completing this project always feels like a major accomplishment for those involved and it stands for years in the community as a lasting visual reminder of what was done together.
While the adults are working together, the children are observing. In Myanmar there is a tremendous amount of internal conflict, both between indigenous ethnic groups, as well as between the Buddhists and the Muslims (some areas certainly being more intense than others), so when diverse groups work together the children observe the unity and develop an early affection for everyone who participated. I think of the young girl in the photo (in our proposal) who is carrying a tire together with a woman wearing a hijab... that young girl was living at a Buddhist monastery but will forever remember that experience and hopefully reserve a place in her heart for those different from her.
More directly however, research shows that play among children is one of the major ways they learn to work through adult situations. The playground is important as a play space because it creates a mini-universe with boundaries so that children "live" in it as they play. We have had teachers report to us (anecdotally) that they see children learning to share, take turns, compromise, and resolve conflict on our playgrounds. These are skills that don't develop as effectively as when there is no designated play area that brings everyone together.
Thank you again for asking, please let me know if you have other questions. I would also really love it if there is any element of my answer that resonates with you specifically so that I can consider weaving it into my proposal before the deadline to better highlight the way that peace is supported through our project.

Photo of Samantha Pathirathna
Team

Thank you so much. Your elaboration is perfect. Yes I got your point. Of course I fully agree. Its a great idea and very practical. I am sure that you can add some summarized version of this also in to your description of the proposal. Good Luck Samantha

Photo of Emily Kruger
Team

I'm reading through all of these comments and responses (so much awesomeness on one page!) and noticing that you asked if any element of your answer above resonates. I know for me it is this bit right here:

"More directly however, research shows that play among children is one of the major ways they learn to work through adult situations. The playground is important as a play space because it creates a mini-universe with boundaries so that children "live" in it as they play. We have had teachers report to us (anecdotally) that they see children learning to share, take turns, compromise, and resolve conflict on our playgrounds. These are skills that don't develop as effectively as when there is no designated play area that brings everyone together."

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Awesome - thanks for the feedback - I have to buckle down with all of this input this weekend and will definitely work on incorporating this into our proposal. Thanks again!

Photo of Samantha Pathirathna
Team

Great good luck

Photo of Rodney Lobo
Team

Hi Genevieve 

I have been looking at playgrounds across the world which have been made from recycling everyday objects like tyres. I hope you can find some more inspiration from them:

https://www.cubesmart.com/blog/post/worlds-amazing-playgrounds-made-recyclables

https://playgroundideas.org/recycled-playgrounds-from-around-the-world/

https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/how-to-build-a-playground-tires-zmaz79jazkin

https://kaboom.org/blog/playgrounds_made_junk

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Thanks Rodney!

Photo of Rodney Lobo
Team

Hello @Genevieve

It is a fact that children do not care or aren't influenced about the socio-political inconveniences created by adults.It is great to see that the community is united through this activity. I think that building such playgrounds will only strengthen it.

I am curious about the incorporation of learning within the playground. Do you have an example for this? Is it thought building the playground or when they are using it?

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Hi Rodney - thanks for the feedback and the questions!
Learning is incorporated into the playground in a number of ways... some subtle and some obvious.
1. Yes, we believe that the first learning takes place while the playground is being built - the children are able to participate fully int he process and learn practical skills, working together, painting, measuring, etc.
2. While the playground is being built, children are also observing some powerful lessons - first, the creative use of otherwise discarded materials (tires, plastics, scrap wood, etc), and second, the teamwork of adults as they work together on a project to benefit the community.
3. Once the playground is built, teachers are able to use it for practical lessons as almost all pieces incorporate education elements. For example, four sided posts are painted as fraction poles (side one is solid, side two in halves, side three in thirds, and side four in fourths). Another feature is the "tire garden", one of the children's favorite to play on as it includes running, jumping, balancing... but the tires are also painted with letters on one side and numbers on the other - making it easy for teachers to utilize them for lessons (i.e. go to an integer of 4; spell a five letter word; stand on an even number; etc).
4. The intrinsic learning value of the playgrounds is also present but harder to quantify - research shows that play stimulated brain activity and helps focus in the classroom. Research also highlights the importance of playground activities on developing social skills as kids simulate adult situations while playing in the mini-universe and learn to resolve conflict, share, compromise, etc.
Thanks again for the questions!
Genevieve

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Hi Genevieve Thank you for this great post. I really like the idea of the playground as a place for learning and cross-cultural connections. I also find really powerful the idea of thinking of this as a process where kids can learn from the collaboration between adults that there is a possibility to go beyond cultural, religious and racial divides. By also addressing this issue at a young age there's also a hope for longer (and sustainable) changes. This is also true for recycling.

I agree on your last point on the role of play for learning. It reminded me a post in a previous challenge ( Rodney Lobo you might want to check it)
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/creative-confidence/inspiration/playing-learning

I'm curious to understand how you recruit participants because as you say their engagement and willingness to participate is key. Is it through schools? community centers? Do you try to focus on families (parents + kids)? or is it a mix? What have you observed in terms of use of the playground? I guess you are also partnering with schools and local governments.

I would encourage you to consider posting a journey experience map as it might allow other community members and sponsors to understand better the process: https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/5c28e26a-ba7f-44f4-859b-e82658264287.pdf You might also realize that you need different ones for different stakeholders.
Do you have a current community in mind for this pilot?

Best of luck with this project!

Photo of Rodney Lobo
Team

Genevieve  It is a nice idea to bring learning components within the objects of the playground. I also agree with your last point. Children do observe the elders and one another. By doing this they try also to be more social in various activities. It definitely makes them more confident while doing things when they grow up.

Anne-Laure Fayard Thanks for sharing the post written by Arjan Tupan 

Peter Gray's article is definitely interesting. It reminds me of the Montessori education system. I have observed kids playing lesser and lesser. They are constantly engaged with a lot of things happening around them. At one point of time I thought it was just me. But as it turns out, there is so much school work, that they do not have a lot of time to play. Another thing I found out from speaking with some parents is that kids are sent to do other kinds of activities apart from school, such as painting classes, music classes etc. While I definitely think that this is a good thing -- they are learning something valuable and practical -- but I also think that they do not have enough time to play.

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Hello - thank you for the feedback and great input/suggestions. I will definitely look into the journey experience map... this challenge has been a wonderful tool in helping us think about our story telling.

To your question about recruiting participants, yes, we work almost exclusively with schools and community centers (and at times religious institutions so long as we believe that the playground will actually benefit and be available to the entire community). Each country is different, so at times we work with local governments, but this is less common (more common is government officials come check it out and make speeches at the opening ceremonies - but each case is truly different). A critical element to our sustainability is that there is a clear community partner who will help organize logistics, liaise with the greater community, and help ensure that maintenance is performed. Our focus is on families, and we encourage at least one member of each family volunteer for at least one day of the project. Especially when working in partnership with a school... one of the benefits of this project is that it gives fathers of families a way to get involved with their children's education since it is usually mother's who are most involved with various school-related activities (please excuse the gender generalizations). We target parents for the construction process, but will involve kids in it as well, anyone who shows up is able to take part (painting, holding, sanding, digging, etc).

As for use of the playgrounds, the first observation is that they get played on very HARD. Ours is almost always the first or only playground in the area and so it gets a tremendous amount of use. As such, without maintenance or a play schedule, it can start to fall apart within a few months. Schools that have had success with longevity have created codes of conduct and shift use (i.e. no more than 2 people on the slide at a time, or only one classroom using the playground at a time, etc).

We do have areas in mind, but ultimately this will depend on the evaluation done by our local Myanmar team (Noor Education and Community Center). At this time they have encouraged the project to focus on the Chin State and other rural areas that receive very little support (both national and international). Changing political circumstances will dictate the final decision during the start-up phase of the project.

Thanks again, we really appreciate your thoughts and help with thinking things through!
Genevieve

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy
Team

Hello Genevieve,

I like the practicality and relevance of your "Play for Peace" idea. Would love to learn a little bit more about you, how you came to this solution and why? What other activities will be included in the playground? What small prototypes or tests have you run so far and what have you learned or do you want to learn in the next couple months. You might need to use storytelling to showcase the impact that your idea could have: https://bit.ly/2GmXxZL

Looking forward to learning more!

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Good morning - thank you for your feedback and questions. I would love more input on where in my proposal you think it would be most helpful to incorporate storytelling - I totally agree that it would be helpful but within the parameters of the questions and character limitations I struggle to figure out how to include everything I both need and want to include :)
On to your questions... the idea was born in 2010 by the founder, an architect from the U.S. who, while visiting Thailand with his family, worked with an organization with a similar mission (they take more of a cookie cutter approach - designs for the masses). Over the years he has taken a customized approach to the designs and process, and focused on training people to replicate the project. In 2014 I got involved when I was running a civic leadership development project for youth from Myanmar that included a community service project to be organized by the group and implemented locally. We felt that a partnership with Play360 would be great, and sure enough, it was a hit and has spread like wildfire, with many of those initial students replicating the idea across the country in their own communities. I returned to Myanmar three times to help each new group in the program learn the project process (including members from the previous years to help in the training) and then joined Play360 formally about a year ago (leaving my job at the university to put all of my energy into growing the organization).
Another activity we always try to incorporate into each program is the creation of supplemental didactic materials based on what is locally available... we have a book of ideas and are always combing pinterest for new ones (i.e. peg boards, flip flop puzzles, bicycle spoke projects, etc). This is in addition to the booklet of educational games/lessons that we give the school to generate inspiration in how to move lessons out of the classroom and away from rote memorization.
We have built quite a few playgrounds at this point (or it feels like it - 35 to date) and we've piloted hosting a Fellow who lived in Guatemala full-time and built playgrounds on an ongoing basis (rather than one at a time like we do). We really want to move in this direction to create efficiencies... it is resource intense to organize an entire project and bring a team just to build one or two playgrounds. The cost of the actual playground is small compared to the cost to get there, so we are moving toward a new model that really utilized a local team to scale up the process and produce many many more playgrounds. So, this is what we would focus on during the refinement stage, working with our local partner organization to think about who the team could be, understand what target numbers are realistic, what risks need to be mitigated (i.e. rainy season), and begin to assemble geographic regions that make the most sense (and then considering all of the above again).
Thanks again for reaching out - I'd love to know if there are any elements of my answer that you think I should make sure get added to my proposal.
Genevieve

Photo of Namrataa Singh
Team

Hi Genevieve,
What a wonderful idea this is. I love the systems thinking you have applied to this. Keep up the good work!

Warmly,
Namrata

Photo of Jesse Hunt
Team

I really love your idea to bring play to children in Myanmar. I am a recreation therapist play is such a great way to build character and to help heal communities. If you need any help let me know.

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Hi Jesse - thank you for reaching out - I love the idea of incorporating you into some of our projects. We've recently been talking about how therapeutic that play can be in healing childhood trauma and post-traumatic stress... I would absolutely love to know if you could point us to easy to digest research on this topic that we could incorporate into our future proposals? Have you been to Myanmar? We have projects in many different countries - let me know if you have a region of interest or specialty and we should see if we can find something to do together! Thanks again!

Photo of Yossef Ben-Meir
Team

Very innovative idea Genevieve! Do you have any plans for inspecting playsets in the future in order to make sure that they are functional or do you plan on allocating that to the people of Myanmar.

Photo of Genevieve
Team

Hello - thank you for the feedback and question! This is a challenging topic for us in all of our playgrounds because it would be cost prohibitive to visit every playground, but we've also found that a visit helps promote accountability and get communities in the habit of good maintenance on the playgrounds. So, the short answer is that we do leave the maintenance to the local community, but the long answer is:
1. Before initiating a project, it is critical that there is a point person in the community who shows real enthusiasm for the project and is likely to head up maintaining the equipment. This is one of the reasons we focus primarily on schools or community centers that have someone in charge rather than a community park where there may be no one specifically assigned. To the extent possible we recommend that this be a parent committee so as not to burden the teachers with yet another responsibility - but with a teacher or school head overseeing.
2. We include upkeep in the training while building the playground and leave a short but detailed maintenance plan for each project. It includes things like typical breakdowns to look for, on what schedule, and how to fix them (i.e. every three months run hands across every piece to check for nails/screws that are working themselves up due to humidity or other factors, then re-drive or replace them). Paint is one of the most critical elements of maintenance because it protects the wood to help it last longer, but also keeps the playground vibrant which contributes to community pride.
3. In this particular proposal we do have a short period at the end (see attached timeline) that includes a visit back to each playground to check on how it is holding up - this serves our own knowledge as well as encourages the local community to identify initial issues so we can help resolve them (since each project can be a little different), and get on a maintenance schedule.
Thanks again for your feedback, please let me know if you have additional questions or if this leaves anything unanswered... I will try to figure out how to mention maintenance in my proposal since I agree that it is an important piece for the sustainability.