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 on an individual, community and systematic level.
Without adequate teachers, school books or school facilities, children in townships become further disadvantaged. Policy changes are needed to incorporate a more holistic, supportive approach in schools where children have access to psychosocial support but also where teachers and employees have a broad understanding of Children's Rights and are able to uphold and be guided by a bespoke Child Protection Policy adapted to that specific school. This will equip and protect both school personnel and the students and contribute to a broader, deeper and more sustainable protective environment for children.
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. From past experience and knowledge from the non-profit sector, Sofia and Frida felt there was a need to focus on the individual's development in combination with a holistic perspective about the child and his or her unique personal needs, in order to create a sustainable and long-term change at both individual and system level.
The founders wanted to create a safe space and platform for children and young people through meaningful spare time where trusting adults motivate children and young people to believe in the future and the opportunity to influence and control their own lives positively.
They also saw the importance of building sustainable structure where knowledge transfer in collaboration with the community and the local institutions already operating in the area become a contributing factor in the development of the organisation's way of working. A great focus was also placed on staff development and well-being, as they deal with major challenges in children's lives on a daily basis.
Based on these foundations, Project Playground was born.