71 per cent of children do not have access to a safe environment to play

Children of the inner city engage in safe play as part of their Constitutional rights.


Children’s rights was hot on the lips of organisers, parents and community members at the Children’s Rights Awareness Day held at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein on 21 March.

According to Gretchen Wilson-Prangley, CEO of Play Africa, an NPO that specialises in pioneering inclusive public learning spaces, 71 per cent of children in South Africa did not have access to safe playing areas. She said, “Only 29 per cent of children having access to child-friendly and child appropriate play spaces in South Africa is a real indictment on the society that we’ve created for children.”

In her speech, she outlined the importance of safe play for all children. “The aim of the event is about creating an environment that is really about championing every child’s right to a safe environment in which to play, discover and learn,” she said.

Children build on the imagination playground made available on Children’s Rights Awareness Day at Constitution Hill on 21 March.

Joint organisers, Lefika La Phodiso (meaning rock of holding or healing), Africa’s first psychoanalytically informed community art counselling centre, were equally vocal about the importance of upholding what is an essential children’s right – that of a safe playing environment. “A lot of children’s rights are being violated. Section 28 of the Constitution [dictates] the right to a safe environment. What Lefika provides is an open art studio that focuses on therapeutic interventions and art skills,” said Ruzanne Myburgh, training coordinator at Lefika La Phodiso.

Nosisa Dube, an outreach coordinator at Play Africa spoke to City Buzz about their progressive efforts. “We conducted a study in order to determine what the communities of Hillbrow, Yeoville and Berea really need because most children live in flats and as a result, spaces are [limited] and children aren’t free to be children,” she said.

Gretchen Wilson-Prangley, Play Africa CEO, speaks during a Children’s Rights Awareness Day event at Constitution Hill on 21 March.

According to Dube, most people with young children did not have time to spend playing outdoors with their children. “The priority for most parents is to put food on the table and so play is at the back of their minds,” she explained. Despite this, Dube indicated that bringing Play Africa much closer to people living in these troubled communities is where the difference lies. “If we can have more places like these that are accessible to children, they’ll be able to escape the perverts and drunkards who linger in parks and violate their rights to being in a safe environment,” she concluded.

Click here to listen to the interview with Rozanne Myburgh

Click here to listen to the interview with Nosisa Dube

Read: 60 000 township schoolchildren benefit from ICT programme

What are your thoughts on children’s rights? Post your comments on the City Buzz Facebook page.

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