To kids, playgrounds are treasure, and the story of the last playground brings this message to our ears, our eyes, and our hearts.
Children have been terribly affected by the war in Syria. Their schools and playgrounds have been bombed out of existence. The children are hungry, sick, and terrified. As they look around them, the world is shattered and broken.
Being underground provides greater safety, so in one city, a group of volunteers built a playground of sorts by digging a tunnel between two basements. In the words of a student-architect, “We dug a tunnel to create a safe connection between the two basements and decorated it with coloured lights and some toys,” says Yaseen. “We wanted to transform the tunnel from being a place associated with attacks, fear and horror to a fun place that engages children as they pass through it.” (UNICEF, Underground Amusement Park gives Syrian children chance to play)
The Land of Childhood now has a ball court, playhouse, space for games, and even a ferris wheel. It’s not a very big ferris wheel and rather “make-shift”, but it keeps the spirit of play alive in the hearts of children. There’s a climbing frame, rocking horses, and a ball pit in this last playground. More volunteers have painted the dirt and rock walls with flowers and bright colors and strung colored lights to shine in the darkness.
Here the kids can laugh and forget the horrors that await them above ground. For many, not only are their playspaces and schools gone, but their homes too. The lucky ones still have their parents. Despite this, children still play. How can they engage in such a ‘frivolous’ activity? To children, play is very serious. It’s how they connect to the world. It’s very profound. It’s how they express their hope in the future. Play is an expression of joy, and the children have not lost the capacity to find joy in bits of time and play.
Maybe what the whole world needs is not war-zones but play-zones. Would that we could learn from the example of children. Peace through play?