There is nothing as heart wrenching as when one consults with a child who gets abused while they were playing and got carried away with the exploration and wonders away from safety. A number of abused children who presented to us were abused while playing in secluded areas and dumpsites, which are often a distance away from the community. On further investigation of this trend we discovered that there were no safe areas in our community where children could play.
In 2008, we approached Johannesburg City Parks, whose mandate it is to build Parks, to partner up with us to build a play park for children. The first phase of the first park was realised in 2009 in Protea Glen Ext 11, thanks to the following sponsors: Johannesburg City Parks, EOH Mthombo Trust, Table of Peace and Unity, Infant Trust and was built from an illegal dumpsite about 100m away from COPESSA. It boasted of about 120 indigenous trees all donated by City Parks.
Later in the same year phase two of the park, which involved planting of the grass, paving of pathways, refurbishment of the play equipment and addition of new pieces and lighting, was completed in less than twenty four hours, with the help of City Parks and 200 pupils from Dainfern High School, NoordHeuwel High School and the local schools. This was made possible by a generous donation from City Parks, Mike Horn Foundation and Pangaea Young Explores’ Programme.
Today, this park is not only a safe place for children to play but also boasts of a mini-library, an activity centre where we host our After Care Programme. Children can enjoy activities such as playing chess, reading or sports, to mention a few.
Our other park is in the Waterworks Informal Settlement and was also built from an illegal dumpsite. This was built in partnership with Westonaria Municipality and was funded by The Table of Peace and Unity, Westonaria Municipality, The Good Start Foundation and Synovate.
We are investigating a further partnership with City Parks not only to build Play Parks for children, but also to take the model COPESSA has developed over the years to other needy communities.