From far, approaching the Make Me Smile Youth Friendly Centre, one can hear the laughter of children playing at the Safe Park, the only public playground in Kisumu East.
Since its inauguration in 2018, the Safe Park has been providing a space for children to play peacefully in a safe environment.
Playing is our children´s job
The Make Me Smile Safe Park is the first of its kind in Kenya inspired by a concept which has been successfully reproduced all over South Africa by the National Association of Child Care Workers.
There are lots of reasons why playing is important and should not only be seen as a children’s rights, but as their duty!
encourages self-esteem, independence and confidence
sparks imagination and creativity
helps develop dexterity and body control
improves communication and language skills
provides skills to work through social conflicts
lowers the stress level and relaxes
improves physical and mental health
fosters cognitive growth
promotes physical fitness
grows social competence and empathy
helps develop problem solving skills.
strengthens relationships with caretakers and peers
The initial situation
Unfortunately, this basic right has faded into the background in recent years because it is increasingly viewed as unaffordable luxury. In many areas, there is a lack of playing facilities for children. A child will always choose to play wherever it can, which often leads to playing in harmful environments. Furthermore, academic and parental pressure does not give children enough opportunities to play, as it is viewed as a waste of time. Many children are at home alone after school or have chores to do around the house, in the fields, or they have to look after younger siblings. There is no place where children can simply be children without being responsible for someone else. The Safe Park thus also fulfills an important task in reducing child labor in the region.
And if you dream, dream big
Having seen the benefits of children’s play, sparked the desire to scale the Safe Park up to achieve its full potential. Through your support, a variety of didactical playing materials can be provided. A caretaker will be able to be present at the Safe Park and training through an expert can be offered for them and for teaching staff from educational facilities in the area. The Safe Park serves as a role model for educational facilities all over Kisumu county, why it so important to maintain and expand its offers. Furthermore it serves as a living example for the community showing the importance of play!