A new playground for the youth was formally opened on the 23rd of March 2015. Mayor Conrad Sidego and Ms Zelda Ellis, President of the Rotary Foundation in Stellenbosch formally cut the red ribbon to sounds of children’s happy laughter. The Youth Outreach Marimba orchestra delighted the attendees with their gentle and uplifting music performance, under the leadership of Karen Jonas (Youth Outreach).
The playpark was made possibly by donation and support from Ms Rosemarie and Mr Manfred Wennemar; sponsors from the German NGO, Deutsch-Südafrikanischer Foerderverein für benachteiligte Kinder in Bensheim as well as Ms Bianca Flukiger and Mr Johan van Der Linde (Representing Eikestad Mercedes Benz); who donated the ground for the playground. Prof Johan Hattingh, Director from the Board of the Youth Outreach centre also attended. Design Inc built the apparatus and Aspidistra Nursery provided plants and planted the garden.
Mayor Sidego quoted Albert Einstein by stating that “Play is the highest form of research.” and that children learn in play and stressed the importance of ensuring this for our youth as part of the municipality’s objectives to create dignified living for all the communities in Stellenbosch. Playing outside is not just about letting off steam. It is a vital part of childhood that helps children develop physical strength, coordination and balance. It also provides opportunities for children to learn and develop.
The mayor also thanked the sponsors for their collaboration to make play a reality for the youth at the facility as play supports broad learning outcomes and that play spaces should include areas for active, free, quiet, social, imaginative, creative, exploratory and natural play. By inviting children to use their own initiative, explore possibilities and take chances we can provide them with opportunities to learn.
Mayor stressed also that the whole community should remember to also create time for ‘play’; freeing up the opportunity to think creatively and constructively so that we can collaboratively find the solutions to the challenges and opportunities we face on a daily basis in our winelands valley. The playground includes a climbing wall as well as a climbing frame and a green garden.
The playground equipment also assists with physical benefits for children by getting children moving and having fun at the same time. The bars exercise arms and shoulders; jungle gyms strengthen arms, legs and shoulders; and all the equipment together encourages children to run from one piece to another, giving them a healthy dose of cardiovascular, heart-healthy exercise.
The social benefits of the playground are a great part of the appeal of playgrounds as the children get to be around one another. Both group interaction and social development take place on playground equipment in a number of ways: Children learn how to take turns and exercise self-control; they can observe each other on all the equipment; and they can strike up conversations with peers on the platforms, bridges and ramps of playground structures.
Linnea Anderson, writing about the history of playgrounds in the U.S. explains that early playground advocates believed that social interaction in playgrounds benefits the country as a whole, building “citizenship and neighbourliness” when children from all economic levels have a chance to play together. Mayor Sidego concluded and attendees agreed that the Youth Outreach playground was a playground that could assist to achieve the benefits of play as Albert Einstein observed.