Project Playground is a non-profit organisation which focuses on improving life opportunities for children and young people. It was founded in 2010 by Princess Sofia of Sweden and Frida Vesterberg.
Project Playground explained to Royal Central, “The vision is a safe world where every child grows up with a belief in the future and the possibility to influence their own life. Therefore, Project Playground works with inspiring, motivating and engaging children and youth to seize their inner strength and potential through organised social activities and sports with focus on the individual.”
The organisation has operated in South Africa since 2010 and Sweden since 2016. The new Swedish operation focuses on the many unaccompanied refugee children who have relocated to the Scandinavian country from their war-torn nations. In Sweden, Project Playground has 60 unaccompanied refugee children who are involved in the organisation’s activities, and these numbers continue to rise. Free after-school activities are offered to all children ages 4-21 in South Africa, no matter their background and conditions. There are 750 children who are involved in the Project Playground programmes each day and 50 locally employed staff who work with the children. Some of these free after-school activities include:
- Recreational activities e.g. soccer, music and dance
- Enriching and stimulating trips on weekends and holidays
- Daily nutritious meals
- Outside influence e.g. parental contact, home visits and cooperation with local authorities such as the social services and police
- Support programmes e.g. initiatives to prevent gangs, crime and violence
- Day programmes, for children and youth who have disabilities, which offer work therapy and capacity training
- Psychological support with therapists and play therapy
- Secure and loving staff who act as role models and mentors. These staff members of there for the children regardless of the situation
They have said, “A meaningful spare time builds self-esteem, ambition and power of action – tools to influence your own life. It realises dreams, creates employment and role models. Only when you care about your own life and expect a bright future are you able to break destructive patterns and exclusion. This, in turn, creates ripple effects on the whole community.”
Project Playground is doing wonderful work in both South Africa and Sweden and is positively impacting so many young people’s lives. They are grateful for all the support that has been given to them and will be given to them in the future. Bracelets are sold for around £13 on their website, which signifies that the wearer is part of the Project Playground puzzle, “Bit by bit, child by child.”
People may also donate to the cause via their website. The organisation explained to Royal Central, “15 Euros – gives one child the opportunity to engage in play and activities and be supported and cared for at Project Playground for one week. Further, 1000 Euros covers soccer kits with a ball, shoes and clothes for 100 children, and with 2500 Euros Project Playground can purchase toys, books, drawing material and other tools for 100 children lasting a whole year.”
Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden chose Project Playground as one of the charities to support in celebration of the christening of their son, Prince Alexander on 9 September. Those who donate on this occasion will be included in a list of all donors that will be given to the family by the organisation.