I would imagine that “World Play Day” last Friday would have passed without most people even knowing it existed. But for the 100-odd children who were invited to come and play at Enlighten Education Trust here in Hermanus (in the Western Cape) it meant everything.
The children attend four preschools in Zwelihle and Mount Pleasant townships, just a few blocks from Enlighten’s base. Many of the children live in the townships or informal settlements; many don’t have “regular” toys they can call their own. But last Friday they had musical instruments, puzzles, dolls and cars, paint, outdoor toys, and a blanket fort with which to play. And everyone got their faces painted by pros too! At the end of the morning they all enjoyed snacks and cool drinks before going back to their preschools just before lunch.
It was amazing to see the children change from shy and withdrawn at first, to regular rambunctious kids. After all, children don’t need to be taught how to play, they just need to be given the opportunity! The delight on their faces was a treat. One little chap followed me about asking for a photo of himself throughout the morning, he was so excited to be there.
The cool thing about Enlighten is that they don’t only work with kids on special days like this, but also run a toy library – where they lend toys to around 30 Early Childhood Development Centres and three schools. Every three weeks they exchange the toys with different ones.
But let me end, as usual, with a bunch of photos – this time of the children enjoying World Play Day!