In 2009 a group of volunteers from the Rotary organization in Canada went to a village called Bullet Tree to install a playground. The playground was the first playground ever to be installed in the village of Bullet Tree. It was part of an ongoing partnership betwen Rotary clubs of Canada and Belize aimed to increase levels of literacy in the country. This playground was one of the first of what is now 11 playgrounds that have been installed in Belize through Rotary clubs and with Emmanuel Foundations support and involvement.
Bullet Tree did not have any playgrounds or equitment that the children could safely play on before this project was completed. When children dont have access to play, often their development suffers in many areas of life including social development and learning. Some of these development challenges were noted in Bullet Tree and that is one of the reasons why Rotary and Emmanuel Foundation worked hard to get a playground in the village. The project was a big success the Children of the village now have access to safe and fun play equitment!
One challenge arose during the project and had a wonderful outcome! In the weeks and months after the playground was completed, teenagers began to ‘take over’ the playground. The teenagers had no where else to hang out, so they started spending alot of time at the Playground and would not let the children use it. Children went home crying to their mothers since they couldnt use the playground. The mothers didnt march down and yell at the teenagers, instead they took a step back and met together to look at the problem. The group of mothers realized that there was no where else for the teenagers to hang out, and that the playground would be the natural place to gather. So, the mothers went to work to solve that issue! Within one year, the Mothers had arranged to turn an abandoned lot next to the playground into a soccer pitch. They then planned soccer tournaments for the teenagers to get them involved and interested in playing soccer. Now, the teenagers have a soccer pitch to spend time at and develop their social and physical skills while the children can enjoy playing on the playground!