BDA, BMC Come Up With Innovative Playgrounds For Underprivileged Kids In Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar: With an aim to ensure that children from underprivileged backgrounds don’t miss out on play in their lives, the city administration has brought something special and innovative to bring smiles in the lives of these children.

Neglected sites at a few locations in the Temple City got a new lease of life as colourful playgrounds thanks to a joint initiative by Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Under a project called ‘Rewind Play’, a first-of-its-kind in the city, discarded tyres from cars, trucks and tractors get a makeover as fun and colourful play equipment to create innovative, low-cost playgrounds in order to provide children with enough opportunities for outdoor activities in an age of rapid urbanization and shrinking open spaces.

The civic body in association with Anthill Creations, a Bengaluru-based non-profit organisation has set up various types of play equipment like ‘The Heaving Hoops’, ‘Stepping Stones’, ‘Cube Climber’, ‘Swings’ ‘Caterpillars’ and ‘Twisters’ here using scrap tyres at five locations including campuses in three government-run schools.

These playscapes are largely made of locally-sourced waste materials, mostly scrap tyres that otherwise get dumped in landfills or are burnt which release toxins into the environment. Scrap materials also bring down expenses significantly. The cost of building one of the playscapes is only one-third that of building a traditional metal park of the same size.

At present, more than 800 children from disadvantaged backgrounds are now playing like never before as these innovative playgrounds have provided the kids with greater outdoor activity in a cost-efficient manner.

In the first phase, five such playscapes were set up and it has been a great success amongst the children, who earlier didn’t have access to a playground. Each playscape is unique in terms of its design and location.

The locations where such playgrounds were created are EkamraVihar Primary School in SaliaSahi, Bapujinagar U.G.U.P School, Nursery School for Dumb and Deaf at Palashpalli, F.C.I Colony Shantinagar Slum and Birsa Munda Ground in SaliaSahi.

The entire process, starting from site identification to the panting of tyres and then handover of playgrounds to respective schools or communities was completed within 60 days.

Creating play areas with recycled material solves two pressing issues in one go.

First, solid waste disposal issue for tyres. Second, allowing greater outdoor activity in Indian urbanscapes in a cost-efficient manner.

Behind transforming the underutilized spaces into attractive and innovative playgrounds, a group of young and motivated architects, urban designers and town planners of Bhubaneswar Urban Knowledge Centre (BUKC), an extended technical arm of BDA, worked tirelessly to convert the idea into a reality.

The process includes clearing the site to level it with sand, building a small gate, setting up the play elements and painting the tyres.

More than anything else, what motivated these youth is to make the city child-friendly and helping these children to live happily in their neighbourhoods. “Play is critical for kids to develop the emotional, social and creative thinking skills as they’ll need while growing as adults, our priority was to build them a space where they could learn and play at the same time, making their childhood a memorable one,” Pratyush Behera, an Architect from BUKC, who was actively involved in the entire process of developing such playgrounds.

The impact of such playscapes in the lives of children is now clearly visible as most of the kids and their teachers were actively involved and took the commitment to take care of their playgrounds.

“I would like to thank BMC, BDA, OMC for this great initiative for children in government schools. The space was vacant for years with just one broken equipment but now, we see our children are more happy and eager to go and play in their new playground,” said Nityananda Das, Headmaster of Bapuji Nagar U.G.U.P School.

Most of the equipment, is made of tyres, don’t rust over time, unlike iron play equipment. The community or school authorities ensure the playgrounds are in good condition but Anthill Creations will be available for assistance when required.

“The beauty of this initiative is that while giving play opportunity to every child in the city, it also reduces the environmental impact as the play equipment are made by re-using waste materials available locally. Having envisioned Bhubaneswar as a child-friendly smart city we took a participatory approach not only to provide children with a good playground but also to make them realize the importance of reducing solid waste by taking ownership of their play area,” said BMC Commissioner and BDA Vice-Chairman, Prem Chandra Choudhary thanking BUKC and Anthill teams for turning the idea into a reality.

Seeing the benefits and smiling faces of children, the city authority has started creating similar playscapes in eight more locations in the city.

The city authority has spent around Rs 10 lakh to construct these five playgrounds, which was funded by state-run Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) under its Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.