The Playtime in Africa Initiative

This initiative aims to establish a model green space containing features inspired by both local culture and best practices from other countries. Its approach is holistic and intergenerational. It is unique in its commitment to practical learning, child-centered design, and the encouragement of imagination and innovation for a 21st century Africa.
2012Ghana

CEI Plus Status

Program Results Status
Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting

Location Data

AccraUrban

The Ghana-based NGO Mmofra Foundation manages the Playtime in Africa Initiative for the benefit of children aged 3 to 16 from all socioeconomic backgrounds. With minimal infrastructure, Mmofra, which means "children," provides comprehensive nature-based cultural enrichment through this initiative. Funding to date has been provided through individual and local corporate monetary and in-kind donations, directors contributions, and some support from external partner organizations. Committed to delivering extracurricular cultural enrichment in Ghana since 1997, Mmofra draws on its extensive networks of educators and cultural practitioners who donate their time and skill in interactive hands-on sessions with kids.

Activities Offered by Playtime in Africa

Visitors to the Playtime site enter into a space that provides relief in a park-starved city.  Some mature trees shade a gathering area with simple logs to sit on. Three-hour sessions take place once or twice a month in a two-acre green outdoor environment, and will increase in frequency as the site facilities develop. The initiative's approach is holistic and intergenerational. Programming includes activities in art, crafts, creative writing, games, gardening, literacy, movement and dance, science and nature exploration, sports, storytelling, theater and performance.  On a "Mmofra day", children read for the first hour, followed by a facilitated session in any of the above areas.  They then have time to explore and test the play features designed and built onsite. Special event days are organized which give specific focus to particular activity sets and participants.  The project directs teen participants into leadership roles including opportunities in participatory design and facilitator-training.

How the Initiative Hopes to Engage Public Policymakers

Child-friendly, accessible public parks are virtually non-existent in Ghana's cities. Urban children are increasingly alienated from nature, or play in unsafe and unhygienic conditions. The structure of urban life is highly stressful for most residents, and limits the time for quality engagement between parents and children. In addition, the education system combined with parental aspirations tend to emphasize disciplinarian rote-learning and a social hierarchy of which children are very conscious. As urbanization becomes an important global issue, Playtime in Africa works towards creating a rich setting to support observation, research and design solutions driven by urban African experience, especially in relation to youth, health and recreation. A major subset of these youth are girls, who benefit by broadening their experience in both arts and STEM, in a safe, hygienic setting. The project seeks to be a pioneer in tropical African public space design for children and highlights the integration of good public health practice and transformative ideas for child-friendly city living.

The Playtime in Africa Initiative is also at the forefront of a green space lobby in Accra. In August of 2013, the initiative organized a high-profile government meeting where representatives spoke with ministers and officials about making green spaces a greater priority in the city. They challenged current policy and regulations with evidence collected from internal evaluations of the program.

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