It's been awhile since we've done a good ol' fashioned news roundup, so here you go!
To give a bright kickoff to the New Year, I've got not one - not two - but THREE heartwarming stories for you today.
To start off, a group of soldiers is bringing play and peace back to Afghanistan by building a playground. The kids didn't have anywhere safe to play, but now all the children in the Panjwayee District have not just a new playground, but what is in the process of becoming a real community gathering space.
The playground, consisting of swing sets, monkey bars, a seesaw and a slide, will one day also attract older villagers. Special Forces have planted fifty trees and will soon deliver multiple wooden benches. Upon completion, the playground will have evolved into a park, offering shelter from the piercing sun and a safe haven for all ages.
It's awesome to see them recognizing the power of play! You can read the full story here: Special Forces Build Playgrounds to Promote Peace in Kandahar Province (DVIDS).
Next up, a runner-turned-Peace-Corps-volunteer helped conceive, develop, and build a multipurpose sports facility for a community in Bravicea, Moldova (a former Soviet republic). When he first arrived for his assignment, "There was no designated place for kids to gather and play...The school pretty much had nothing—a cramped room in the basement amidst the pipes, a muddy, dirty, rocky field, a couple of really beat up soccer balls and volleyballs, and that's it." And now they have a facility with a basketball court, soccer field, sand volleyball area, slides and teeter-totters, a long-jump pit, plus a 135-meter track with a limestone gravel surface. And he did it, in part, by building an asset map, tapping everybody he knew for donations to raise the money. Read the full story here: On a Mission (Runner's World).
And finally, here's a sweet story about KaBOOM! Suzie Boss from Edutopia tells the story of a Design Day for Seattle's Van Asselt Elementary School. If you've ever wondered what a Design Day is like, head on over and give it a read. Here's a snippet:
A fourth grader named Jillian had some specific ideas but said, "I'm not a very good drawer." She did, however, take care to label all the important details in her sketch, which showed two box-shaped structures with windows and balconies connected by a maze of stairs, bridges, slides, and ladders. "Oh, and flags on the roofs," she added. An adult asked whether she was thinking of a fort. "More of a castle," Jillian said with a firm nod.
You can read the full article here: Children Create the Playground of Their Dreams (Edutopia).