Nothing brings a smile like watching joyful children playing! Active play develops bodies and minds. But many children in slum areas in India do not have safe places to play, and this problem was heightened as Covid closed schools.

Since 2016, the Rotary Club of Ojai has had a close relationship with Prashanti International School (PIS) for low-income children in Puri, India. We completed several Club and District Grants plus a Global Grant in partnership with Rotary Club Srikshetra, Puri, funding drinking water and septic systems, computers, boundary walls, gates, restrooms, classroom furnishings, teacher training, etc. When the need for a safe playground at PIS became apparent, we jumped at the idea.

In 2021 the International Service Committee of RC Ojai, PIS, and nonprofit World Family Foundation (WFF) chose items that would serve the children and withstand the climate and cyclones of Puri. As well as sustainable, the equipment design could not harbor dangerous cobras! With approval from Rotary District 5240, a District Grant was created.

Fabrication of a metal slide, monkey bars and a two-level playhouse with a “shop” below for role play was overseen by Puri Rotarians. Additional items were provided by WFF. The playground was inaugurated in January with local Rotarians in attendance. It is called “Frankie’s Place” to honor an Ojai resident who supports and loves the children. A plaque thanking the RC Ojai and World Family Foundation was unveiled.

The playground gives children a safe place and adds some joy and happiness to the world!

By Leslie Bouche, ISC Chair, Rotary Club of Ojai