photo: Esther Henry

THE BOTTOM – The Child Focus Foundation playground was damaged by hurricanes Irma and Maria. To ensure that children can enjoy outside play as soon as possible, Child Focus started a renovation project. The new playground equipment was selected with the help of drawings that a group of children made.

The playground is an important part of Child Focus in the village of Windwardside. Even when there are no activities organized at Child Focus, the playground remains accessible for all children to play on.

The building where Child Focus is housed, used to belong to Catholic nuns, who led a school for the children in Windwardside. After they left, Mr. Ronald Johnson bought the property and declared that the building had to continue to be used for the children of Saba.

The new playground equipment was selected with the help of drawings that a group of children made.

Child Focus continues to organize a broad variety of activities at different locations for over a hundred children of the ages 4-18 years. “This way we ensure that this wish is fulfilled”, says Caroline Teeuwen, Program Manager at Child Focus.

A local construction company was ‘eager to take on the job as they are well experienced, more innovative in their ideas and had precision as well as being affordable’, said Teeuwen.

Playground designs by children.

“The enjoyment of play experience and safety, were the important factors for the selection of the play equipment, together with the wishes of the children”, mentioned Teeuwen. The play equipment was purchased from a well-known Dutch company, that offer professional and architectural advice about the layout and safety guidelines of a playground design.

Littering is a problem
The main goal of the playground for the new year is to provide a safe, litter free environment for children to play. This is unfortunately a challenge, since there is a lot of littering taking place in the shape of beer bottles, plastic wrappers and cigarette buds. Child Focus teaches environmental awareness by encouraging children to bring their water bottles to activities, which can be refilled.

Teeuwen encouraged, “Contributions from the community are highly appreciated. Parents can organised children to carpool, parental supervision is needed, and abiding by the new rules such as the smoke-free zone, no pets and no littering is valued.”

Grand opening of the playground will be announced in April

Poisonous plants
Some of the current plants such as the bougainvillaea, will be removed by the Agricultural Department of the Public Entity of Saba, since these plants are not safe for a playground due to their thorns or poison. Child Focus has re-quested to have slips made of these plants and to have them relocated to other areas on the island.

Donations in the form of non poisonous flower plants and grass mats are welcome, as well as community members with gardening knowledge who would like to donate their time to help with the beautification of the surroundings.

The realization of the playground has been made possible by various donations. The grand opening of Child Focus’s playground will be announced in April 2018.