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Early childhood: going back to culture, advancing towards peace. Implementation of self-sustainable play and exploration experiences centres for young children and their families.

Targeted towards young children, families, and communities The project has three pillars: (A) Participative action research: identifying traditional games with similarities among diverse ethnic communities and incorporating each community's attributes in its centre. (B) Strengthening culture and reconciliation: educational activities involving young children and their families that promote reconciliation and peace building through cultural enhancement broadening the comprehension of ethnical differences. (C) Sustainability: utilizing technologies that permit the procurement of energy from games that require movement, as well as through the installation of play experiences in developed countries that generate financial resources

Photo of Carlos del Castillo
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Conceptual basis
Play is considered to be an effective method of communication in early childhood, which assists young children in developing an understanding of cultural and social norms.  In addition, play allows children to discover the world, as well as communicate and establish relationships with other children and adults. Under this premise, the project’s main objective is to achieve the comprehensive development of young children through the exposure to other cultures through play in order to encourage and enhance the reconciliation process, beginning from the formative years, with the purpose to form a lasting peaceful coexistence between cultures experiencing strife.
How will it work?
The project aims to design and implement centres of play and exploration experiences for young children and their families in vulnerable situations, using each community's cultural traditions as a basis for the development of the play and exploration experiences. The action plan proposes the following components and activities:
I. Preparation and development
  1. Research: The main focus of research for the project is to identify different traditional games in a variety of ethnic communities. Therefore, the project will be developed in coordination with the elders of each community who own the ancestral traditional knowledge, which is invaluable for the accurate development of the project. This investigation will also identify “universal games,” which intrinsically possess similar characteristics and symbolism among different ethnic communities.
  2. Co-creating games: once the games are identified with the assistance of community elders, the project will engage with families to effectively integrate participative elements. In the interest of furthering sustainability through cost-savings and community empowerment, this process will prioritize the use of local resources.
  3. Building the centre: the design of the centre where the play and exploration experiences will be installed will take into account the physical and natural characteristics of the community, organically developing the program to reflect each host-community’s sense of place. This component will also identify games with the capacity to generate energy by movement through the use of sustainable technologies. This energy will be used to power the games and the centres.
  4. Training for community education workers: community members will be selected for training on the use of play and reflection as a tool for strengthening parenting within each family and to create educational and exploration experiences to foster the comprehensive development and participation of children.
II. Implementation
  1. Educational sessions for children and families: in addition to generating a free community access centre, the project will serve as a structured educational propose. Specifically, the project will be conducted through two hour-long weekly educational sessions with children and their families. During these sessions, the education facilitator will develop activities with the children and their families, in which through play and reflection they will aim to strengthen parents' upbringing abilities and introduce other cultures and stimulate the comprehension of cultural differences. 
  2. The educational facilitator will also travel to remote villages that would not be able to access the centre in order to conduct the above outlined educational training with rural families and their children.
  3. Monitoring children’s development: health and nutrition are critical aspects to ensure every child’s development. Accordingly, the project will include a healthcare professional who will perform activities to monitor the health and nutritional status of the children and be able to detect illness in its early stages in order to prevent irreparable, sometimes fatal health conditions.
III. Actions for sustainability

The project aims to generate adequate resources to become successful and sustainable, through   two actions:
  1. Install the play experiences in developed countries: the play and exploration experiences that will be created in each community will be brought to developed countries and installed in educational centres, community based organizations, and at cultural festivals. The objective of the interaction of children and families from developed countries with these experiences is to generate an opportunity for them to interact and develop with games from diverse cultures, promoting their comprehension of the similarities and differences.
  2. Identification of dynamic games: developing games in which it’s possible to generate and obtain electrical energy through the use of energy transformation technologies to supply each centre and, depending on its capacity, to other consumers in the surrounding community. 
Why do you think it might succeed?
  • The development of this project is based organically on cultural elements of each community and will be performed using a collaborative methodology with local actors. This interaction and local identification will bring together and empower the community, creating the type of community buy-in required to sustain the project both in the short and long term.
  • The project involves community members as educational workers and elders, who possess a fundamental comprehension of the culture and needs of the community children and their families.
  • Each of the three pillars of the project are innovative elements, which distinguish this approach to early childhood intervention and education from that of other projects. The innovative elements are: (A) Participatory action research; (B) Strengthening of culture and reconciliation (C) Self-sustainability
What questions do you have for the community?
  • If the children and families of your community could afford to play traditional games of your community, would you be interested?
  • Would you be interested if the children and families of your community could afford to play with traditional games from a community that differs from yours?
  • Do you recognize the importance and value of play for early childhood comprehensive development?
  • Please describe your community's existing environments for play and interaction for children and their families.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

• The population that will most benefit from this project is vulnerable and impoverished young children, their families and communities that are located in regions affected by ethnic conflict. • In addition, young children, their families, and communities in developed countries can greatly benefit through the interaction with play experiences from regions that are culturally different or may be affected by ethnic conflict. While this population will benefit through the play experiences that will allow them to comprehend cultural differences, the revenue they generate will contribute to the sustainability of the project.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

The idea could be tested by these actions: 1. Identification of the specific contextual conditions that promote the implementation and appropriation of the project. 2. The identification of a few traditional games, in order to validate their contribution to cultural strengthening beginning from early childhood. 3. Validate the level of acceptance from a sampling of communities and families of children's willingness to participate and interact with traditional games from other cultures and ethnicities.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

Feed back form the OpenIDEO community and experts advice on: • Integration of early childhood in building peace and the reconciliation process • Knowledge of the cultures and traditions from countries that could be targeted by this project. • Identifying sustainable technologies that transform energy through movement. • Participatory and communitarian data gathered in the territories in which the project will be developed.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.


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Photo of Jefferson Ramírez

Feliz de ver este proyecto al aire!

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