HI opens first ever inclusive playground in Teknaf, Bangladesh.
HI and Ikea Foundation have constructed and officially opened the first ever inclusive playground in Teknaf district, Bangladesh. Since then,the playground has become a place filled with children, with and without disabilites, playing and laughing together.
Children from Teknaf (Bangladesh) at play after the inaugural of an inclusive playground supported by Growing Together, an HI project financed by Ikea Foundation | © S. Ahmed / HI
It was a big and festive day for the community of Teknaf (Bangladesh), HI staff and especially the several dozens of children, when a representative from the Ministry of Social Welfare officially opened the first playground ever in the region. For months, community members and HI staff have been constructing the playground with local materials, under the eager eyes from the children who couldn’t wait to try out the swings, toboggans and especially the traditional boat that has been turned into a colorful jungle gym.
Teknaf is a very poor district; structured, child-friendly and inclusive places to play do not exist. “Even the open fields are disappearing quickly”, says Farid Alam Khan, local communications officer for HI. “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.”
Since the opening, the place is always packed with school-going and out-of-school children. “Thanks to the playground, the children can be in a different world. We’ve noticed already that the playground connects people. Also, it shows the parents and the community the importance of play for children, and we hope that local organizations will follow this example and will start constructing playgrounds as well”, says Farid.
The playground is built in an inclusive way, inviting and facilitating children with disabilities to join as well. “Traditionally, children with disabilities are not allowed to go out to play. But now HI volunteers go search children with disabilities to take them to the playground. The aim is to encourage parents and other children to, from now on, include children with disabilities.”
HI will be opening more inclusive playgrounds in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand in places where there is a lack of safe, secure play spaces and playgrounds. The playgrounds are a part of Growing Together, a project funded by Ikea Foundation that gives vulnerable children the chance to develop and play. After all, every child has the right to play.