Jess Poole I know I do a huge amount of charity work, but this one is different. I will be travelling to Uganda on 30th August 2018 for 3-4 weeks to volunteer building playgrounds for schools. This will include non skilled labor work like digging, welding, painting, communicating and teaching the tutors about new and safe play. Restoring old playgrounds which have been over used and getting to know the children. This will be hard physical work from very early in the morning to late evening.

Being a child in Uganda is tough. After decades of political unrest and conflict, 8 million children live in poverty. Time out of school is spent working or helping at home. Half the population is under 15 so at school, classes are huge and resources are stretched due lack of funding. This, combined with a system of learning through reciting facts, children don’t get the chance to be creative, use their imaginations and be children.

Since 2009, the charity East African Playgrounds has been installing playgrounds in schools, to give Uganda’s children the chance to play. They train teachers in play theory, and how to incorporate the playground into lessons, as well as how to care for it. They use high quality local materials so their playgrounds are sustainable and locally sourced. Play provides countless proven benefits including social skills, cognitive abilities, problem solving and fine motor skills. Adding play to a child’s life can lead to significantly raised IQs, greater achievement at school and even higher rates of employment and wages in adulthood.

I urgently need your support to continue the programme of building playgrounds and teacher training through summer.

Through work experience with primary schools and being senior leader for Rainbows, I understand how important play is. It's freedom to explore their imagination, creativity and learn in a safe environment. Unfortunately a lot of African families don't have toys, books and things to play at home, so school is key to provide this. For English children, school can be a chore, but in Africa its a privilege and something the children look forward to. To let off steam, energy and excitement so they can study harder during academic classes is hugely important to increase concentration and ability to learn. Jess Poole