East African Playgrounds is a charity that believes that alongside education, children need access to play activities to reach their full potential. We envisage a world where all children have access to areas where they can explore, learn, develop and play.
Since 2009 we have gone from eight university students building one playground in a summer to a dedicated team of UK staff and volunteers, 150 student volunteers each summer and a Ugandan playground building team who run Africa’s only Playground building and training yard which builds 13 playgrounds a year and trains young adults to become welders and builders.
We are an ambitious young charity full of driven young adults who want to bring the benefits of play to all children across Africa.
East African Playgrounds (EAP) is a UK registered charity that aims to change the lives of children across East Africa by developing children’s learning opportunities and environments. We work alongside local communities to build stimulating and exciting playgrounds, run arts and games programs as well as developing long term employment and training opportunities for young people across East Africa.
EAP was founded by Carla Powell and Tom Gill whilst they studied at the University of Leeds in 2009. Since then we have invested in a young, dynamic and motivated group of Ugandans who are now the driving force behind our work in East Africa and headed by Kenneth Kajuba, a fantastic young man from Jinja, Uganda. We aim to utilise peoples strengths and enthusiasm in our vision to provide access to play opportunities to children across Africa. Carla and Tom are joined in the UK by an amazing team of trustees, UK volunteers and our network of volunteer group leaders.
All work and no play does not just make Jack a dull boy, it also stifles his development! Child’s play is more about exploring, learning, creating and inspiring which in turn develops a whole child: physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially. By providing an environment that encourages unstructured play it encourages children to think for themselves thus gaining vital problem solving skills.
Community involvement – From the moment a community applies for a playground we work in partnership to design, prepare, build and maintain the playground. We work with active communities that are passionate about play.
Local Investment – Our aim is to support people in East Africa and therefore we invest the majority of our time, finances and effort into the East African communities that we work with. The majority of the materials are sourced locally and our focus is on employing East Africans not UK members of staff.
Focus on Play - There are thousands of charities in Africa focusing on a range of issues and problems. Very few focus on the importance of play to children’s development and well being.
Minimal Overheads – As we are a small charity a little amount of money makes a massive difference. People like to see where their money goes so we keep our overheads low and transparent so you can see your donations will not get lost in administration. Click here to have a more detailed look at our accounts on the charity commission website.
The Power of volunteers - Many people underestimate the impact volunteers can have on other people and organisations. Volunteers mean that every playground has a personal touch. Their finances support alone accounts for over 85% of our income and our volunteer projects cover all of our admin costs. This means any donations go directly to our work in Uganda!
Playgrounds- We build high quality, safe and fun playgrounds using locally sourced materials in Uganda. With the help of the community and our playground building team we create spaces for children to explore, develop and enjoy!
Playground Yard – We have established a Ugandan Playground building team consisting of young adults who are trained to become builders, welders and managers. The more playgrounds we are able to build the more opportunity we are able to provide for young adults across East Africa.
Games and Arts- Working alongside local artists and teachers we provide after school arts and games clubs for the children to develop transferable skills of problem solving and creativity.
Across East Africa unemployment affects an alarming number of young men and women. Currently over 30-50% of young men in Uganda are unemployed. The high amount of unemployment is not due to a lack of desire to work but due to lack of jobs and opportunities. Within East Africa many of the unqualified young adults struggle to find paid work, this often leaves young people earning money ad-hoc where they can, instead of being able to find stable long term employment which will enable them to escape poverty.
EAP believes in creating jobs and investing in ambitious young people within East Africa. Each program we run is headed by a trained local who is continually training new apprentices. Through our Playground building programs we have created a welding apprenticeship scheme where apprentices have the opportunity to take a two year welding course at a local college and gain experience in our expanding playground yard. Through our playground yard we are able to provide qualified tradesmen with full time employment and young adults with apprentices. By working in this way we are able to give opportunities to a wider range of people and develop the skills and futures of those we work with.
EAP had been trying to find the funds to send a young man to a technical college in Uganda to gain a full welding qualification. This young man is called Emmanuel and has been involved with the charity since it started in 2009. Emmanuel was in fact the Head-boy at the first school EAP ever worked with in 2009. He finished school in 2011 and had struggled to find work or funds for further education. He had stayed in touch with Tom, Carla and the building team and started to volunteer his time in our welding yard. He was very keen to learn the art of welding and started to come to the yard and on our building projects in the summer of 2012. Now with the funds from Hatfield Rotary club we are able to offer Emmanuel a full time apprenticeship for 2 years, with all the expenses covered by the funds from Hatfield Rotary club. After these two years Emmanuel will be a qualified welder with very good prospects for the future and EAP will have a new fully trained welder in our playground building team.
In 2009 we built our first playground with the help of 8 UK volunteers from one UK university. In 2013 we will build 13 playgrounds, run Africa’s first playground building yard, have 15 full time staff in our Uganda building team, several young apprentices and over 150 volunteers from 11 UK universities. Now that our Playground yard and Ugandan building team are up and running we are ready to start on the next stage of our development as a charity.
Here are our aims for the next 2 years:
- Develop our designs further so we have an even wider range of play equipment
- Get our Ugandan Building team working independently and self-sufficiently
- Train more young adults in our building yard & meet the demand for playgrounds
- Start a sensitisation program in Ugandan schools to promote the benefits of play
- Expand our work into a second country
If you feel that you could help us achieve any of these aims, whether it be by volunteering either in Uganda or the UK, getting your school or company involved, making a donation or working with us on a playground for your charity we would love to hear from you.
News & Media
East African Playgrounds has started to receive a relatively high amount of local media interest, from volunteer fundraising, handstand challenge, sports kit collection and even a local journalist raising funds through the newspaper to volunteer in Uganda with EAP. Here are just a few:
by Dorking Advertisers Sam Blackledge
Tom and Carla, the founders, met with Sam Blackledge for a one-off interview to raise awareness of the charity. After writing the newspaper article, Sam continued to research into EAP and decided he wanted to start a campaign to get the local community (Founder Carla Powell’s hometown) involved in raising money and Sam coming out to Uganda in September 2012 to witness the projects first-hand.
by the Leicester Mercury
At the start of 2012 East African playgrounds was contacted by Steve Humphreys to start a sports kit appeal in Leicestershire, where he had previously done so. The local paper, Leicester Mercury, got behind the appeal getting sports clubs in Leicester to donate their unwanted kit. Safe Storage helped us along the way with providing free storage for the huge number of kits the we received.
by Julie Dunmont
In December 2011 EAP was contacted by Julie Dunmont, a student, who wished aimed to do a handstand everyday of 2012 to raise money for EAP. She has kept to her word and also received all sorts of media attention from her challenge, she even got into the Daily Telegraph!
Each volunteer that comes out to Uganda with EAP fund raises a target amount. They have done some crazy things and received publicity for doing so. Here are a few:
Jack Smith, 3 peaks challenge
Jenny Whytock, Abseiling in Leeds
EAP’s work and the fund raising efforts from the general public and our volunteers have often found places in local and national media. If you are interested in doing a story or finding out more about our work and what our volunteers are doing then please contact us.