Many Liberians who grew up in either semi-urban or urban areas fondly remember spending their recess at school riding seesaw, swings, slides, or monkey bar. Others who were lucky to have had these recreational facilities in their neighborhoods often have the joy of hanging out there for hours during leisure.
These opportunities which helped many youths leave the constraints of the classroom behind and set out for adventures in the open air are memories forever cherished.
However, in many parts of Liberia, today’s children are overwhelmed with an abundance of activities and fewer opportunities to enjoy outside play.
Social media, TV shows, video games, after-school activities and their academics demands are leading to disappearing playgrounds and playtime, especially that since the end of the war many families have been focused on the acquisition of plots of land to build homes.
In fact, community playgrounds have been increasingly disappearing and replaced by houses.
Notwithstanding, ArcelorMittal Liberia has recognized that recreational activities are a key part of the development of children, and has embarked on a drive to construct playgrounds in its host communities in Nimba, Grand Bassa and Bong counties. As part of its concession area and host communities’ facilities improvement and or engagement drive, ArcelorMittal Liberia’s management has made the conscious decision to give children safe and conducive venues to play and exercise close to their homes.
In December 2022, the company completed and dedicated a modern children’s playground in its Buchanan concession area.
Barely weeks to the 2022 Christmas and New Year festivities, AML also constructed and dedicated another playground in the mining town of Yekepa, Nimba County.
ArcelorMittal’s Buchanan Estate Manager, Augustus Karmon, said this was a great development, and “we appreciate AML for the initiative because it will help to control the movement of the children and ensure their security and protection”.
Liberian contractors are hired to construct the playgrounds after ideal landscaping and other fundamental engineering works.
Both playgrounds in Grand Bassa and Nimba are recording high number of daily turnouts by hundreds of children.
ArcelorMittal has said its vision is to primarily enable children to learn by playing, develop physical, social and emotional abilities, promote imagination and make learning more fun.
The fact that it has proved that playgrounds are good incentives for childhood development, AML is working with partners to construct an additional number of playgrounds in the host communities.
These will offer children of different age groups in Bong, Nimba and Grand Bassa counties the opportunity “to develop cognitive, emotional, social, and motor skills that can help them grow into better adults”
They parks are expected to include “landscaping, constructing, and installing of the playground equipment like swings, seesaws, slides, monkey bar, jungle gym, and other equipment”.
As AML’s Phase 2 Expansion unfolds, with an additional 1.2 billion to be invested in mining, rail, and processing, more children in different host communities stand ready to gain huge variety of skills from these playgrounds.
It is expected that these children will develop coordination, social awareness, language and so much more from these facilities.