World Play Day – Let’s Move:
Lasst uns (was) bewegen

The German motto for World Play Day 2021, “Lasst uns (was) bewegen” (“Let’s Move”) could not be more fitting for the goals that Jambo Bukoba and Jambo for Development pursue with their work. In fact, there is a double meaning in this call that best describes the ambitions of our projects. Above all, our sports projects – the sports competitions which we call Bonanzas and the sports teacher workshops in Tanzania – are making a significant contribution to more movement for the students in the Kagera region.

Sport and Play Develop Children’s Self-Esteem

But, of course, we do much more than that: success at the Bonanzas delivers increased self-esteem, and our “Life Skills Through Games” training programme contributes to educational work in a playful way. Through our water and school construction projects, we are improving the learning conditions for thousands of Tanzanian girls and boys. That is why we are particularly pleased to adopt the motto chosen for Germany literally and spread it throughout the world – and in our case to Tanzania. After all, this is also a global day of action that is already being implemented in 40 countries around the world through sports.

What is the purpose of World Play Day?

In Germany, the Deutsche Kinderhilfswerk e.V. (DKHW) is the motto donor and initiator of World Play Day. Since 2008, the DKHW, together with other sponsors, has put together World Play Day campaigns each year. The “Recht auf Spiel” alliance (transl. Right to Play), which receives support from UNESCO among others, also came about thanks to the DKHW’s ambitions. As is the case all over the world, the focus on World Play Day is on promoting children’s physical activity. The Children’s Fund sees this as “playing a central role in the holistic development of the personality and the healthy upbringing of children”. Jambo Bukoba fully supports this approach.

Looking internationally, the origins of World Play Day go back to the International Toy Library Association (ITLA). Founded on May 28, 1987, during the third “International Toy Library Conference” in Toronto, ITLA is a non-profit, international organization that unites various national toy libraries, also known as ludotheques. In ludotheques, instead of books, board games and other toys can be borrowed, thus giving everyone the chance to enjoy this recreational pleasure.

In 1999, the ITLA finally formally established World Day Play as an annual day of action. Over the years, more and more countries developed activities around the themes of promoting physical activity and play among children. According to the ITLA’s overview, there are now a total of 40 countries that implement events based on the relevant motto of choice. On the African continent, South Africa, Kenya and Cameroon are among the pioneers.

World Play Day: A Global Day of Action

The right to play is attracting more and more attention through international focus days, such as World Play Day. Since 2013, this has even been explicitly regulated in its own paragraph, Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The international pardon to the „Recht auf Spiel“ Alliance, IPA World (International Play Association), founded in 1961 as a non-governmental organization, has created a video entitled “This Is Me” on the importance of free play for children. Be sure to check it out – it’s a compilation of happy, playing children around the globe that’s well worth seeing. The footage is accompanied by complementary words that focus on the importance of play for the physical, emotional, social and spiritual development of every child.

World Play Day and Covid19

This year, World Play Day falls during the Corona pandemic for the second year in a row. While in 2020, the motto of the theme day in the international context was “Be Safe, Play at Home”, in 2021 in English-speaking countries it is “Playing is healthy!” The allusion is certainly also significant in view of months of restrictive corona measures to which children were subjected. Above all, playing together – as a game and sports experience during school breaks and lessons or in the afternoon with friends – was unthinkable at times.

On its website, the ITLA also refers to increasing digitalization, especially in industrialized nations, as a result of which children often no longer learn to grasp the world in a sufficiently slow and real way. In fact, the increase in virtual worlds poses the risk that children frequently no longer have the energy to play in the original way or have even forgotten how to play. This makes it all the more important that World Play Day and its background receive sufficient attention, especially in times of the Corona pandemic.

Timotheo Theonest was one of ten children in the region of Kagera we interviewed about World Happiness Day. For him, happiness means just that: having free time to play and be a child. If you want to read this again and know who “our lucky children” are, you can find the blog article on our website.

Learning Life Skills Through Games

Understanding the world through play and sport – this is an important aspect that Jambo Bukoba and Jambo for Development support. Our Life Skills Through Games workshops had already reached more than half a million children in the Kagera region of Tanzania by 2019. At the time, this represented a coverage rate of 93% of all schools. Through a specially developed programme of exercises and training sessions, created cooperation with the prestigious German Sport University Cologne, the children learn, for example, that you can achieve more as a team than as an individual fighter, that girls can be at least as strong as boys even in sports, and that “fair play” is of great importance in all situations in life.

“Lasst uns (was) bewegen” (“Let’s Move”) – a motto we fully support. And of course, we hope that in a few years’ time World Play Day will also enjoy sufficient social recognition and implementation in Tanzania…

Written by: Teresa Mönks and Muriel Burke

Sources (further):

world_play_day_28.jpg (194×199) (itla-toylibraries.org)