Have you ever wondered why there are so many run-down and unusable street sports facilities around in our cities? Like if the youth grew up and no longer needs them.
Nothing could be further from the truth as there has never been as many young people in the world as we see today. Especially when looking at regions like the Middle East and Africa. And the need has only increased with the rise of obesity in countries where the opposite – starvation – seemed to be the problem only a few decaded ago.
But what mayors and city planners often miss is how much money can be saved by a bit of maintenance and some local ownership. Why is it that so many cities maintains the asphalt on the roads much deerer than the asphalt on their playgrounds? And what would happen if it was the other way around?
Maybe it’s because it makes better pictures to establish new commercial districts and high profiled public spaces than maintaining and renovating the public spaces that are already there. Cutting the red ribbon to a new mall is more spectacular than tightening the screws on the backboard of a basketball hoop. But while the former doesn’t help us break the curve of obesity, the latter could.
This summer GAME has tightened the screws a few places in Lebanon. One of those is in the southern town of Ansar, where a partnership with the municipality and NRC has increased the appeal and capacity of the local playground. Every Sunday morning Lebanese and Syrian children now meet across divides to play together. The facility re-opened in July and with a strong local ownership amongst the local youth who function as volunteer instructors and role models, the facility still looks brand new. In the coming years GAME strives to refurbish and revigorate many more places like this. In Lebanon, Somaliland, Sierra Leone, and beyond. But we can only do it with the will and support of the local municipalities – who’s with us?