More than 22.5 million people live in refugee camps around the world. About half are children in refugee camps. This world crisis is directly linked to the unrest around the globe that is displacing people by the hundred thousand each month.
Children in refugee camps are often denied the simple ability to play in these camps. There are no basketball facilities, soccer fields, or other areas that encourage play for children in refugee camps. There is a company that is trying to change access to play areas for children in refugee camps.
What is a Refugee?
A refugee is by definition a person that is forced to leave their home country under duress. Typically, a person has to leave their home country because of war, persecution because of their faith, or because of a natural disaster.
A refugee has left their home country and crossed over an international border to find safety. They are classified and protected under international law. Often a refugee will leave their home country with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.
Sadly, many children in refugee camps are separated from their parents. They arrive in the camps alone because their parents have sent them on without them in hopes they will find a better life. In many cases, the children will make it to safety while the parents die along the way.
Refugees are forced out of their homes, leaving behind all of their possessions, family members, their jobs, and more. They arrive at the camps with nothing. It sounds unimaginable that there are children in refugee camps that arrive without shoes, without coats in the dead of winter, that are literally starving, but it happens every day.
Here are some statistics about children in refugee camps around the world:
- Children in refugee camps are five times more likely to have missed more than two years of school before reaching the camp. Many children arrive at the camps with no education at all at the age of eight. 76% of adolescent aged refugee children were not enrolled in a secondary school in their home country.
- Children in refugee camps are 25 times more likely to contract serious diseases and illnesses.
- This is a global crisis that is affecting every area of the world.
This is not an issue only overseas. There are refugee camps right in the United States. The increase in violence in Central America has driven refugees to the American borders. Africa, Greece, and Europe have all seen a tremendous increase in the number of refugees that cross their borders in search of help.
Many children in refugee camps arrive sick. They arrive with emotional wounds. They have been abused in their home country. Many have to carry physical scars from wars, while others carry deep mental scars.
While there are plenty of big issues to consider when it comes to children in refugee camps, like the lack of children’s dentistry and other care services, there is another problem that these kids face: there is no place to play. There is no equipment to play with. Camps are typically overcrowded, so there’s no room to be allocated for play space. Additionally, all the resources are going toward medical supplies, food, and other necessary resources. These poor kids have been through so much. Playing can be healing for them.
Why Is Play So Important?
Adults consider play as childish, but it is important for a child. We learn how to compete, treat people fairly, negotiate, and make decisions all through play. For children in refugee camps, play takes on an entirely new role. Play helps these kids escape. Doing something as simple as kicking a soccer ball into a goal gives a child a sense of achievement and lets them forget for a few minutes where they are and how they got there.
Play is instinctual. All mammals participate in play because it is an important learning tool and an important part of development. Yes, teeth cleaning kits and other supplies are very important to a child’s overall health, but so is playing.
As a matter of fact, play is important to everything a child does now and in the future. Developing that adventurous spirit comes from taking risks on the soccer field or taking that three-pointer shot that no one thinks you will make.
Some experts would say that play is as important as having enough water supplies. That is how important play is to a child’s development. Here are some things that play has taught us all:
- Decision making skills. Playing soccer, basketball, baseball, or any other support requires that you develop decision-making skills on the field. Do you take the shot? Do you go left or right? These simple decisions can help to shape future decision-making skills for the more important things in life.
- Conflict resolution. Play teaches us how to navigate a conflict with teammates or opposing teams. It helps us to learn how to express our position and negotiate.
- Learn how to lose well. There are plenty of times in life that, no matter how hard you try, there is just someone who is better at doing something than you are. Play teaches us to keep trying and how to lose graciously.
When the world is focused on getting kids in camps the oral care they need and providing them with a food supply, it’s easy to forget all the valuable lessons they miss out on by not being able to play.
There is a company that is addressing getting construction delivery needs to be met while at the same time providing play opportunities for children in refugee camps. PlayPallets International has figured out a way to get much-needed supplies to refugee camps while also giving kids in these camps the opportunity to be kids and play.
Pallets Are The Solution
Every shipment that goes anywhere in the world, whether it is full or waterproof bandages, clothing, or foodstuff, is shipped using pallets. Pallets are a necessity to ensure the safe delivery of goods around the globe, including to refugee camps.
PlayPallets International took the very necessary pallet and transformed it into something more, something that delivers hope to children in refugee camps. It is well understood that while play is very important, it can be difficult to displace much-needed supplies and safety products for the sake of sports equipment for kids.
PlayPallets International came up with a unique idea that would not displace necessary equipment and supplies yet still deliver play equipment that could be easily installed for children in refugee camps. They designed a pallet that is used for shipping, that can also be constructed to create basketball goals.
It took two years of trial and error to come up with a standard-sized pallet that could easily be loaded with a forklift, and that could manage the weight that a standard pallet could. This patent-pending pallet uses every section of the pallet when it reaches its destination. Each shipment contains all the parts that are needed to put two basketball goals together, complete with backboards, hoops, and nets, without taking up any extra space in the shipment or displacing necessary supplies.
PlayPallets International also has a skate box design that comes complete with four skateboards and that turns into eight full feet of skating fun. The soccer goals playpallets come with two soccer goals, nets, hardware, and boundary markers. There is a ton of potential with these pallets that will provide a designated play space for children in refugee camps.
Everything is already in place for these innovative pallets to be inserted into the supply chain and start reaching children in refugee camps around the world. These self-contained playpallets are a simple idea that can profoundly affect children in refugee camps around the globe.
The PlayPallet solution ensures that children in refugee camps can have something that remotely looks like childhood, and they get to participate in valuable playtime. The company has other designs in the works as well. Currently, the research and development department at PlayPallet International is looking at ways to create field hockey playpallets, cricket, and table tennis.
The PlayPallets are constructed of wood like most standard pallets, which means they are environmentally friendly, easy to repair, and the playpallet can be put together quickly and easily. Every part of the pallet is upcycled to create the sports equipment. Nothing goes to waste, and nothing takes up valuable shipping space.
Why PlayPallets Work
The refugee crisis around the world unfortunately only keeps growing. That means more people will need help, and more supplies will need to be shipped to provide that help. You may be wondering, “why not send a separate shipment of store-bought sports equipment?”. The biggest reason is the cost. Most international organizations focused on helping refugees work on a shoestring budget. Spending money on store-bought sports equipment has to be a very low priority, especially when there is a need for food, medication, and other supplies.
Additionally, shipping costs are expensive. Paying to ship an entire container of sports equipment to every camp around the world would wipe out budgets quickly. By incorporating sports equipment into something that is already being used in the supply chain, the cost can be reigned in and make getting sports equipment to children in refugee camps cost-effective.
You may also be thinking, “do you really need a formal goal to play soccer?” and admittedly, you do not. But PlayPallets create a feeling of stability. You can play soccer with a ball and a couple of sticks outlining the goal, but with the right equipment, you feel a little more “normal.” Leagues can be created within the camp to provide the kids with direction and purpose when they have the right equipment.
PlayPallets are the perfect solution to help kids experience some of the joys of childhood while being stuck in a refugee camp with limited resources. Ultimately, the real question is, “why not?”. If there is a solution that will meet the simple need to play to forget about life for a while for these kids, which does not take anything away or require sacrificing other necessities, why not choose PlayPallets for the supply chain?
How Can You Help?
Of course, it is important to ensure that children in refugee camps get medical care, oral care, food, clothing, and education, but it is also important that they can play. PlayPallets International helps kids to have some normalcy in their life.
There are ways that you can further this movement of bringing cheer to children in refugee camps including:
- Donate. A donation of any amount is always appreciated.
- Become a corporate sponsor. You can raise your own brand’s awareness by working with PlayPallets International as a corporate sponsor.
- Spread the word. Use your social media accounts to spread the word about PlayPallets International and the work they are doing.
If you know of any organizations focused on refugee relief, consider connecting them with this great opportunity to provide the kids with sports equipment. This equipment can be a great way to ease children into life at the camp.
Some of the Most Profound Differences Are Not Made By Grand Gestures
It would be a perfect world if no child was run out of their home by war, famine, or other risks to their life and limb, but it is not. It would be ideal if we could donate millions of dollars to the problem. Grand gestures make a big difference, but sometimes the little gestures can have a tremendous impact.
PlayPallets are not a grand gesture, they will not fix the refugee problem, but they are a small gesture that can really affect a child’s life profoundly and bring some joy to a very bleak situation. Children in refugee camps do not have a lot to look forward to. Going outside to play basketball, soccer, or ride around on a skateboard for a little while can be the saving grace for that child. Consider helping to spread the word about PlayPallets International and donate if you can.