Donors’ Generosity Funds Northern Uganda Playground
This month Outreach Uganda finalized the construction of our new playground for the children who attend our Agatwa School in northern Uganda. Following construction, the school celebrated with a community dedication ceremony.
“It is a great help to the children, the school, and the community as a whole,” said parent Akena Martin. “It will encourage children who did not otherwise want to come to school.”
The 500 students that attend the Agatwa primary school had never had a playground before. To bring them a playground, Outreach Uganda, through its donors, raised funds and worked with another NGO that constructed the playground to U.S. and European safety standards. While school doesn’t commence until February 22, the children were so excited to have a playground, they were already playing on it the moment it was finished.
“A playground is a new invention in the District, and nearly the whole of northern Uganda,” said Aleng Paska, Outreach Uganda child sponsorship coordinator. “It will encourage many children to like school and will even draw the attention of parents to bring their children to school.”
The Importance of Play
In the United States and other wealthy countries, children play on a playground during recess at school, go to the park to play on a slide or swing set on the weekends, and take part in extracurricular activities that incorporate play like soccer, swimming or ballet class.
In rural areas of Uganda, children do not enjoy these luxuries. For example, until this month, our Agatwa School had a field where the children could play soccer and a game called net ball, but no playground or even a swing set.
Play is critical to child development; so much so that the United Nations has recognized it as a right of every child. Play, especially child-directed play like that which occurs on the playground, teaches children:
- To share and collaborate with their peers;
- To interact with the world around them; and
- To practice decision-making skills and other adult activities.
Now that the Agatwa School has a playground, the children will be able to incorporate play more fully into their school day.
Keeping Children Engaged in School
The playground gives the children a place to fully relax and enjoy unencumbered play, but it also serves another purpose: reducing absenteeism and developing more interest in school.
David Ocitti, Outreach Uganda project coordinator, said he is encouraging the children to start playing on the playground now so they will be more excited to come to school when the school session begins. He hopes that children will be more likely to attend school regularly if they can look forward to playing on the new playground with their friends.