How a jungle gym creates a step upwards

HOW A JUNGLE GYM CREATES A STEP UPWARDS

Why climb a ladder when you can climb a jungle gym?

On 14 September 2017, a jungle gym was donated to the Alpine Primary School in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town. KLM organization Wings of Support ensured the financial support and the Run4Schools foundation made it all happen. The two organizations met through The Dutch Consulate in Cape Town, who brought the two parties together as part of their mission to build partnerships and co-create sustainable solutions together. 

 

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The Run4School foundation runs music and sport activities at four schools in townships within South Africa. These poor communities suffer from social problems which have adverse effects on learners. Extra-murals are helpful to children in these communities as they are fun and productive whilst keeping the children safe. Activities like soccer, dance and singing during and at the end of the school day, keep children sheltered from the gangsterism and crime infesting these neighborhoods.

 Through the Run4Schools programs, the children have developed self-esteem, motivating them to finish school and simply have more joy in their lives. This is the common thread running between Run4Schools and Wings of Support. The latter organization is a private initiative of KLM employees, supporting small-scale initiatives in KLM destinations with lasting improvement of the quality of life of the children in their own environment. Responding to the project, Wings of Support project coordinator, Marthe Klap shares, “Alpine Primary will be a new destination for our cabin crew to visit during their stay in the Mother City and they will assist the Run4Schools coaches wherever possible”.

 

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Alpine Primary’s principal, Mr Patel says, “A jungle gym is something that looks small but it is affecting the lives of the children a lot. It is something that they are not used to and it creates a safe environment for them. It makes the learners feel that they are worth something. Furthermore, it teaches the children how to share, teaches them discipline and they can use their energy in a way that a child is supposed to; by just playing. This way they will notice less of the negative energy from outside the school area. The project not only creates fun for now, but it also creates a chain reaction. If children learn how to make the right decisions today, they will make better decisions in a later stage of their life too.” 

Thanks to Run4Schools, Alpine Primary now boasts an artificial turf. This green playground has become the pride of the school and the local community. More than 1300 learners of Alpine are enjoying sports and recreation under the supervision of the Run4Schools coaches. On a visit to the school, children were seeing playing soccer on the field and little girls were braiding each other’s hair. The turf is a playfield for everybody. 

Yet another fun-filled feature at the school is the jungle gym. This challenging playset is especially for the younger learners, keeping them active during breaks and after school. Both eco- and child-friendly, the jungle gym is made from 100% recycled plastic packaging, is non-toxic, will not splinter and is built to last a lifetime. Even more fascinating is that the jungle gym is equivalent to almost 30 years of plastic packaging that has been used by the average family of four!  At the opening of the playground, the children could not wait to try it out and were all lined up to slide off the deck. Founder of Run4Schools, Leslie Pangemaman says, “Why the jungle gym is so important for us and our kids? Just have a look at the kids and you can see!” 

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Alpine Primary’s principal, Mr Patel is grateful for the contribution the organisations have made to the school. He says, “A jungle gym is something that looks small but it is affecting the lives of the children a lot. It is something that they are not used to and it creates a safe environment for them. It makes the learners feel that they are worth something. Furthermore, it teaches the children how to share, teaches them discipline and they can use their energy in a way that a child is supposed to; by just playing. This way they will notice less of the negative energy from outside the school area”. Mr Patel believes that the new facility will have life-long impact on the learners, saying, “The project not only creates fun for now, but it also creates a chain reaction. If children learn how to make the right decisions today, they will make better decisions in a later stage of their life too”.  

This project shows how co-creation can make a difference. “If we all come together; listen to each other, we can co-create solutions that make a real difference in peoples’ lives. This project is an indication of how simply childrens’ lives can be impacted and changed,” says Bonnie Horbach, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In the forthcoming year Run4Schools and Wings of Support will examine how they can grow wings to their new partnership in the long term. We are looking forward to the outcome!


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