I realised last weekend that the only activity I manage to do with Miss Kupsy when I go home for the weekend in Marondera is go and grab a bite. We usually settle for pizza and icecream because that is the ONLY take out place in the whole town. When I bring her to Harare that is a completely different case because the options of things to do are countless.
However, today my main concern is the lack of outdoor play areas for children in my hometown. When I was growing up there was a functional swimming pool, a video game centre, a movie house, a tennis court, a basketball court and a park which actually had swings, slides the works! Ask me what has happened to these play areas? Well, the swimming pool since stopped working years ago, the video game centre is not used for that anymore, I am still to find out what is going on there, the movie house was turned into a bar, the tennis court now has people setting up stalls to sell second hand clothes, the basketball court is being used as an area to line laundry and the park… oh well; just another dump in town with no swings at all and a lot of litter.
It annoys me that whoever is responsible for town planning does not take the children in the community into consideration. Where in the world are they supposed to play? I mean, they can’t possibly stay indoors all day long, or play on the streets or around their house till kingdom come. They obviously get tired just like everyone else and need a break and need to socialise with children their age. And if you ask me this should be something that can be done without having to fork out a lot of money if any at all. Imagine if all they are going to be exposed to is eating unhealthy take out? I can just picture a whole bunch of adults suffering for weight issues in the near future…
The following points are (based on Wardle, 1996-2003) describe the main reasons why outdoor play is critical for the healthy development of young children. I took a few points from the article.
Physical Exercise Children need to develop large motor and small motor skills and cardiovascular endurance.
Enjoyment of the Outdoors Outdoor play is one of the things that characterize childhood. And as Lord Nuffield once said, the best preparation for adulthood is to have a full and enjoyable childhood.
Learning about the World Outdoor play enables young children to learn lots and lots and lots of things about the world. How does ice feel and sound? Can sticks stand up in sand? How do plants grow? How does mud feel?
Learning about Self and the Environment To learn about their own physical and emotional capabilities, children must push their limits. Health Everyone who works with young children in early childhood programs and schools knows how quickly bacteria and viruses spread in these environments. One way to reduce the spread of infection is through lots and lots of fresh air.
Then you wonder why I am thoroughly upset with Marondera Town Council? Do you see all those benefits of outdoor fun for children? It seems those in the powers that be do not have children as a part of their programme because if they did surely there would be at least ONE play area where children can just have a grand time.
Miss Kupsy loves the outdoors and I feel bad that the only open space she has to play is at home. I hope someone addresses this issue and something is done about it. When I think back to my own childhood, some of their fondest memories are of outdoor places and activities I got up to (I will never forget the first time I fell off a tree trying to climb to the top) I hope Miss Kupsy and all the other children in the community do not get deprived of that opportunity. All children have the right to basic childhood needs…jumping, running, climbing, swinging, racing, yelling, rolling, hiding, and making a big mess,it is what childhood is all about!