Local government department launches community-based outdoor play facilities | 31 October 2019
Opportunities to engage in active and pretend play is very important for children below eight years old. Studies conducted in many Scandinavian countries have proven that such opportunities have boosted children’s creativity, cognitive and social skills as well as their physical abilities. Provision of outdoor play facilities at community level has also been widely researched. Children who have been exposed to outdoor play tend to develop:
- a better understanding of and value their surroundings;
- a greater interest in and for nature that may later evolve to participation in environmental protection related activities;
- higher level of resilience and positive risk taking behaviour.
It is worth noting that accent should not be placed on the mere provision of such outdoor play facilities. These outdoor play opportunities should also be rendered safe and secure for children and parents.
Mindful of the above cautions, as part of the fourth Early Childhood Care and Education National Action Plan (2019-2020), the local government department has contributed one project that envisages to promote the use of safe and child friendly community-based playgrounds through the:
- Construction of two new district playgrounds (Ste Ange Estate, Takamaka and Perseverance 2)
- Refurbishment of three district playgrounds and
- Organisation of activities that will increase accessibility to and use of existing district playgrounds.
This project was launched on Friday October 11, 2019 in a short ceremony in the Anse Royale district. The ceremony was attended by the Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon, and the principal secretary for local government, Marie-Celine Vidot, along with representatives from the National Sports Council (NSC), the Ministry of Education, the Health Care Agency, the Seychelles Fire & Rescue Services Agency, and other members of the Anse Royale District Team including pupils from the Anse Royale primary 1, primary 2 schools and the crèche. The invitees were welcomed by the district administrator which was followed by the official launch presided over by Betty-May Sofa, the chairperson of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Technical Committee within the local government department.
Invitees at the ceremony also received blessings from Reverend Christine Benoit and Father Collin Underwood.
After the official launch, the invitees had the opportunity to interact while the 224 invited pupils arriving in batches from the National Sports Council (NSC) shuttle bus service participated in a series of activities from 9am until 2.30pm. The activities on the programme for the day were namely:
- Playground activities
- Safety talk and short rides on the fire engine by the SFRSA officers
- Sensitisation of ways to handle emergencies at home by the Red Cross Society
- Tips on how to pack and carry backpacks so as to prevent back injuries by the Anse Royale Health Centre
- Discussion on the importance of handwashing so as to prevent illness triggered by microbes and bacteria
- Story telling by local government programme officers and senior citizens
- Educational and recreational games prepared by the National Council for Children and the Children’s Home Foundation
- Conversation on ways to board and behave in buses by two SPTC staff
- Participation in games allowing children to use their motor skills and cognitive skills.
- Demonstration of good practices on how to use different playing facilities on the playground.
It is good to note that to date, playgrounds are available in 15 districts. Aside from those playgrounds, in the ECCE National Action Plan, the local government department plans to repair toys in other playgrounds. These refurbishments will be undertaken using government funds supported by sponsors from the private sector.
The department wishes to call on community members to take ownership of these facilities and ensure that they are being used as per their rightful purposes. Parents are encouraged to feel free to access these facilities and to ensure that they discuss any organisation of private functions with the respective district administrators. Schools should make use of the free learning opportunities that could and would complement the delivery of the standardised curriculum.
All in all, investing in our young generation is recommendable as it fuels community development, curbs social ills and fosters community cohesion and unity.
The accompanying photographs show some highlights of the launch ceremony.
Contributed by the department of local government