As summer approaches and finals are behind us, it’s time to close the books for a bit and think about fun! I wrote to the Kibera School for Girls in Kenya and the Selamta Family Project in Ethiopia to learn more about playtime halfway across the world. In elementary school, my recess usually consisted of hopscotch, foursquare (the kind with a ball and chalk boxes – not a cell phone check-in!), and funnel ball. However, after learning about the schools’ playtime activities like Circus Camp, yoga classes, Ethiopian and hip hop dancing, I’m blown away by incredible ways these girls fill their day.
At the Kibera School, the girls play outside for 30-40 minutes every day after lunch. Typically, the younger girls dance their way through recess, while the older girls jump rope, read, or talk with friends. However, for two weeks recently, the young girls were entertained by the Africa Yoga Project, a performing arts organization that led the girls in yoga, drumming, singing, sign language, face paint, and hula hooping classes! The girls rotated through the different sessions the first week, and then chose their favorite activities to do the second week. At the culmination of Circus Camp, the girls hosted an incredible show for all of the KSG families.
In Ethiopia, the students at the Selamta Family Project also have time each day to relax and play. Though all of the students have break-time during the school day, they usually also play after school before helping out at home or starting homework. Like the girls at Kibera, the students enjoy jumping rope, painting and drawing, and doing gymnastics, but they also love to play card games (especially Uno!) and futbol, or practice their hip hop or traditional Ethiopian dance moves. Some girls spend their recess trying out new hair braiding styles. One of their favorite special events is Selamta Idol!
Both the Kibera School for Girls and the Selamta Family Project believe that all children have the right to play. In writing this blog, I learned that playtime is more than just a fun break in the day, it’s actually a right protected by the United Nations. Article 31 of the UN Convention asserts, “every child has the right to rest an leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities . . .and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.” Whether they’re working hard at reading new books or solving math problems, it’s clear the girls at the She’s the First partner schools fill their day with lots of learning and lots of joy!