DESPITE 25 YEARS OF FREEDOM FROM APARTHEID, 80% OF CHILDREN IN TOWNSHIPS STILL GROW UP WITHOUT OPPORTUNITIES
'DESPITE 25 YEARS OF FREEDOM FROM APARTHEID, SOUTH AFRICA REMAINS THE MOST UNEQUAL COUNTRY IN THE WORLD'
The World Bank Report, 2018
WHAT HAPPENS EARLY,
MATTERS A LIFETIME
Project Playground works exclusively with and for the children and youth forced to grow up in the legacy of Apartheid. We are established in areas that are systematically socially and economically deprived and in a society with an absent support system. Many of our children come from broken and abusive families, where they are victims of neglect, various types of abuse, malnutrition and lack positive role models. Due to the circumstances of their environment, many children are deprived of a true childhood. That is why Project Playground intervene early and work long term with both children and their surroundings to create holistic change.
Without adequate teachers, school books or school facilities, children in townships become further disadvantaged. Sport and recreational activities are often not part of the curriculum.
Studies have shown that structured sport and recreational activities contribute towards positive development of children’s and youth’s increased motivation, concentration and ambition. The combination of these increases their self-esteem and self-control. That's why Project Playground has an intense focus on self realisation and send actualisation.
Project Playground believes that the way forward is to be proactive rather than reactive and to focus on the individual in everything we do. Decisions and actions should be based on prevention, sustainability and motivation for a positive attitude towards life and the people around them. Project Playground creates a safe space for children to be children. Because we know that what happens early, matters a lifetime.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MEANINGFUL SPARE TIME
The spare time of a child in the townships of South Africa is the most dangerous and vulnerable time of the day. In the streets, children and youth are at risk of being exposed to harmful situations such as violence, sexual abuse, gangsterism, trafficking and substance abuse. Project Playground offers a safe environment where children are supported throughout their childhood, youth and into adulthood.
By using recreational activities and sports as tools to change thought patterns, behaviour and attitudes from an early age, we tackle prejudice, peer-pressure and exclusion. By providing a safe haven from the harsh realities of the townships, we give children and youth a chance to develop self-esteem, ambition, self-confidence, responsibility and a sense of community – tools to influence their own lives. This in turn has a ripple effect on the whole society.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Turning Passion Into Action
Princess Sofia of Sweden, at the time Sofia Hellqvist, and Frida Vesterberg founded Project Playground in 2010. Sofia and Frida where joined together by the idea of an organisation that makes a real difference, and that takes into account all aspects of a child’s life. They both travelled to several countries across the globe, including India, South Africa, Ghana and Senegal, where they visited and participated in non-profit work. Whilst volunteering they noticed and were surprised by the fact that many organisations lacked focus on the individual as well as a holistic perspective surrounding children and their needs. They saw that focus was on obstacles instead of on possibilities and potential. They saw the need of supporting vulnerable children throughout various stages of life, not merely early childhood or adolescence. When Sofia and Frida met in 2009, they both wanted to start an organisation that put the individual child first and with a locally based operation focusing on quality over quantity, which led to the founding of Project Playground. Today Project Playground operates in Hallonbergen, Sweden and Langa and Gugulethu, South Africa. Today, Princess Sofia is Honourable Chair of the Board and Frida is the Director of all South African operations.