In collaboration with IKEA Foundation, HI (Humanity & Inclusion) recently made and opened an inclusive playground at a refugee camp in Teknaf district, Bangladesh. Much to the delight of the US-based nonprofit organization, their first-ever inclusive playground has been filled with children of all abilities since opening.
The people of Teknaf (an Upazila of Cox's Bazar District in the Division of Chittagong, Bangladesh) were delighted when a Ministry of Social Welfare representative, along with numerous children and HI staff, inaugurated the region's first and only playground. The HI staff have restlessly been assembling the playground using local materials along with community members while excited children were ready and willing to test the swings and toboggans. The main attraction, however, was the traditional boat that was converted into an intensely-hued gym.
Regrettably, Teknaf has tight budgetary constraints. As a result, there's dearth of child-friendly and inclusive places where children can play regardless of their abilities. “Even the open fields are disappearing quickly,” Farid Alam Khan, a local communications officer for HI stated.
“Due to unplanned urbanization, almost 70% of the total open space in Bangladesh has been grabbed in the last two decades. There was a huge need for a playground with child-friendly games,” Mr. Alam added.
Referring to the playground that continues to be filled with kids since opening, Mr. Alam said, “Thanks to this new playground, the children can be in a different world. We’ve already noticed that the playground connects people."
More importantly, this emphasizes the importance of play for children irrespective of their physical or mental abilities. Moreover, Mr. Alam hopes this will encourage local organizations to start building more playgrounds that will be constructed with all sorts of physical abilities in mind.
While differently-abled children are not always encouraged to go out and play in the same way as able-bodied children, Mr. Alam says HI will leave no stone unturned in a bid to find children with mobility or any other reduced abilities, and bring them to the playground. This is likely to inspire parents and other children to embrace children with different abilities.
Image credit: Humanity & Inclusion U.S./YouTube screencap