CECILIA BERGLING NAUCLÉR, SECRETARY GENERAL, PROJECT PLAYGROUND
“The COVID-19 pandemic meant that many high school students ended up in a pinch”
Project Playground offers children and young people in vulnerable situations a safe space where they can grow and develop through capacity-building, educational and developmental programmes. They offer support and encouragement in the education of children and young people and help them to pursue their interests through a variety of activities. Its programmes create a place where children can be children, and where individual goals are encouraged.
MEANINGFUL LEISURE TIME HELPS BRING ABOUT SISTAINABLE SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Meaningful leisure time encourages drive in children and young people. This is the basic concept for Project Playground, and its approach to combating exclusion and helping make the world more sustainable. Project Playground empowers young individuals and gives them hope for the future by creating safe spaces and capacity-building activities for children and young people in vulnerable situations.
Project Playground’s ambition is to create a world in which all children and young people can grow up with a belief in the future and the ability to make a positive impact on their own lives. This fundraising foundation was born out of the knowledge that scarce economic and social resources increase vulnerability among children and young people, which in turn can affect their well-being, self-esteem and future prospects. Founders HRH Princess Sofia and Frida Vesterberg wanted children in vulnerable situations to have the opportunity to take part in an organisation that focuses on personal development and needs from a holistic perspective.
ACTIVITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA AND SWEDEN
From the start in 2010, Project Playground has provided children and young people with meaningful and safe contexts in the form of capacity-building, educational and developmental programmes. By focusing on play, Project Playground aims to identify children and young people in vulnerable situations before they are at increased risk of social problems such as crime, lack of education, mental illness or substance abuse. The various programmes provide children and young people with the psychosocial support and encouragement they need to create and live the lives they want. Cecilia Bergling Nauclér is the Secretary General of the Project Playground Fundraising Foundation.
“Our programmes are available in Sweden, and South Africa. Our aim is to help bring about sustainable development in both parts of the world. Leisure time is the most vulnerable time of day in many parts of South Africa. Project Playground runs free after-school activities such as football and help with homework among the shantytowns of South Africa. We also run “Play on Wheels”, a daytime activity for young people with various disabilities.
“We’re also working to create better conditions for all the family by offering psychosocial support and food parcels. Although the COVID-19 pandemic made it more difficult for us to reach out to people in South Africa, we managed to carry out more than 2,800 home visits and a total of 500 children and young people were active in our programmes.”
THE PANDEMIC CREATED NEW NEEDS
Activities in Sweden began with the wave of refugees that arrived in 2015. Project Playground could see that the needs of unaccompanied minors arriving in Sweden were similar to those in South Africa. Project Playground was able to offer a range of activities in Sweden by building on the expertise acquired by the foundation in South Africa. Project Playground is now based in Sundbyberg and works in partnership with Praktiska Gymnasiet, Liljeholmen. Its programmes include sports and culture, but also skills-enhancing activities such as study support, coaching and lectures. Project Playground focused strongly on the well-being and academic achievement of high school students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions meant that many high school students ended up in a pinch. Young people living in poverty or without internet access or a computer couldn’t attend lessons remotely. This contributes to a sense of isolation and hopelessness among young people, which also affects their mental health. We offer help with homework and support for young people in need in partnership with the city of Sundbyberg. We run Hjälpakuten, an activity focused on equipping young people with the right tools for adult life, together with Praktiska Gymnasiet in Liljeholmen. We’ll be offering contact pathways in the business community, and help with writing CVs. Besides these activities, we also make sure young people in need have access to school supplies and computers.”