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

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

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Genevieve commented on Play for Peace

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!

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Genevieve commented on Play for Peace

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.

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Genevieve commented on Play for Peace

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.