Over the last few years, we have installed swing sets and other playground equipment in various locales around Uganda, including: Kampala, Lira, Gulu, Arua, islands of Lake Victoria, Masaka, Kasese (Rwenzori mountain villages), and Kabale. For the most part, they are installed at primary schools and orphanages in isolated, and frequently beautiful, locations.
Playground equipment turns out to be wildly popular with younger children, and frequently with older children and adults. There is something relaxing about the back-and-forth movement of a swing. Or the up-and-down of a teeter totter. Or the climb up monkey towers.
Children in Africa are often required to work to help support their families. They chip rocks to make aggregate. They help with subsistence farming. They haul water, frequently over long distances. They sell fruits and vegetables on the streets and roads. Playgrounds give them a respite from life’s grinds.
Additionally, playground equipment encourages children to attend school. After equipment is installed, school administrators indicate that attendance jumps. It also provides children opportunities for exercise, but more importantly it helps them develop socialization and people skills.
One fun aspect of playground installation is community participation. When we install equipment, we encourage the locals to participate and they always do. At a recent job in the Rwenzori Mountains, because there were no roads to the site, the villages hauled–on their backs–all the parts for the playground equipment several miles up to their primary school. They also helped with assembly, digging holes, and mixing concrete.
In Uganda, we have installed a variety of equipment including: swing sets, teeter totters, climbing towers, monkey rings. and rockers.
Roger Hansen is the project lead for the playground equipment. For more information visit his blog checkout the youtube video at the bottom of the page.