Hanoi, Vietnam, February 2021 - Eight year old Ngoc, who lives in Hanoi, was delighted when UN-Habitat and partners set up a playground near his home as part of a project to support children suffering from the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the pandemic

“I come to play at this mobile playground every weekend afternoon because it is close to my house. It is very fun here. My favourite game is playing with the wooden pieces and making a wooden tower,” said Ngoc.

The mobile playground near his home was one of seven constructed in the Vietnamese capital using simple recycled and natural materials in small neighbourhood public spaces. The project aimed at promoting physical activities and social interaction for children in disadvantaged neighbourhoods hit by COVID-19 restrictions and training local residents on setting up and managing mobile playgrounds.

“This site used to be an informal car park, causing problems relating to environment and traffic. With agreement of our community and support from the project team including HealthBridge and Think Playgrounds, we could organize the playground at this site in a very creative way,” said community leader Thanh Loan, chairwoman of the Women’s Union of Ngoc Ha ward where Ngoc lives.

“From now on, our neighbourhood will have a fun public space where children can play and adults can meet and chat. Car parking will never be allowed here. “

Before the playgrounds were created, there were several meetings with community leaders and ward authorities. Then nearly 60 playworkers were trained on COVID-19 prevention measures which included ensuring children wash their hands before using the playgrounds, identifying zones for individuals and smaller groups and sanitizing the equipment after events. A training curriculum was developed with information on how to organize and maintain playgrounds and safety principles.

Phuong Nguyen, community coordinator of Think Playgrounds, another project partner said the project was very valuable providing playgrounds in small urban public spaces in Hanoi at a reasonable cost.  “This model is also very practical to implement during the COVID pandemic, contributing to ensure the children's right to play in their own neighbourhoods,” she added.

Some 400 children benefitted from the playgrounds which were funded by the Block by Block foundation. By building the capacity for local residents to manage and develop a mobile playground model in their community, these communities are now well positioned to provide playing opportunities for children during future crises such as pandemics.