Children rehabilitate a child-friendly park in Quneitra
On World Children’s Day, children are taking the lead to reimagine a better world, starting with a safe space to play
“I’m looking forward to the moment when we finish rehabilitating this park,” says Laith, 12 with a big smile on his face, standing in a public park damaged through years of conflict near his school in Quneitra, southern Syria.
“I picture myself swinging high and playing here with my friends every day after school,” he adds.
Almost ten years into the conflict in Syria, Laith and children in his community have been deprived of a safe space to play, with the only park in their area having been damaged, looted and potentially contaminated with unexploded remnants of war.
“For years, we have had to play in the streets or in unsafe areas,” explains Laith.
But today, having been frequenting a UNICEF-supported child-friendly space in their area, Laith and his friends decided to take matters into their own hands. At the centre, children are encouraged to form clubs and committees where they regularly meet to discuss their rights and translate them into community-based initiatives. This time, the children decided to lead an initiative to rehabilitate this public park and restore life and colours to its abandoned premises.
Once they detailed their plan, the club elected Laith to lead the implementation.
“We met with the city council and the mayor to clear the park from war remnants and advocate with council workers and the local community to give us a hand,” says Laith.
In in innovative collaboration between the children, the local community, a UNICEF-supported NGO and the city council, the once abandoned park was cleaned; its swings and slides repaired and painted; new seedlings were planted, and colorful benches were made using recycled wood and car tires.
UNICEF is supporting over 39,000 children in Quneitra with child protection services including awareness raising on children’s rights and community-based child protection committees and clubs.