POL Posts: Blogs, Reports & Updates
July 23, 2014

Safe Parks Activities and their Impact on Children's Health and Wellbeing

Safe Parks is a program that is free and open to all children in the community and addresses some of the challenges (both mental and physical) faced by children living in the Matero compound in Lusaka, Zambia. This program provides the children with an opportunity for safe play and psychosocial support in an environment that facilitates activities, discussions, and educational lessons. Homework help is also provided to children who need it.

A Typical Day at Safe Parks 

The children begin the day by singing and dancing, an ice-breaker activity that helps the children interact with friends and make new ones. This ice-breaker is especially important for first time participants in the program. The trained CYCWs (Child and Youth Care Workers) assess individual needs as the children sing, dance and interact. The children are then separated into different groups based on age. Each group, supervised by a trained child and youth care worker, participates in age appropriate activities/discussions.

During these sessions, child care workers discuss diverse issues important to the children, for example, overall health, HIV prevention, sexually transmitted diseases, cleanliness/hygiene, and the importance of adherence to medication and staying in school. In addition, homework help is provided to children who need it. Some children bring their books to Safe Park so that they can complete schoolwork with their peers and with our child care workers. Finally, a snack is provided - many children come to Safe Park without a meal. 

Next Steps 

A few older children who have graduated from high school have been mentoring the younger children by sharing their experiences, and helping with school work. We hope to make the mentoring component a permanent feature of this program.

At this time we are raising funds to rent a bigger play area, and to provide a nutritious snack for the children every week. Please donate generously, as every little bit counts and goes a long way in helping these children play and learn in a safe environment.

Thank you for your support.


Safe Park activities have several beneficial outcomes. Firstly, children who have been living with HIV for a few years become role models for other children - they share experiences and underscore the importance of sticking to the medication regimen and going to appointments on their own. Secondly, school performance of many children has improved as a result of homework help and healthy interaction with other children. A few children have proudly displayed their grade cards to our child care workers. For example, 19 out of the 20 children who wrote their grade seven exams were promoted to grade eight. Similarly, nine out of the 10 children who wrote the grade nine exams were promoted to the next grade. Finally, Safe Park activities like reading aloud, drawing and coloring encourage early childhood learning among the younger children.


The direct beneficiaries of this program are about 75-80 children and families who participate each week. A total of about 700 children are enrolled. Safe Park activities benefit adults too, as it helps them understand the importance of keeping children in school, HIV testing, and antenatal visits for expecting moms (to prevent HIV infections in new born babies). Expectant mothers who are HIV positive are counselled on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and are referred to an antenatal clinic.

To sum, Safe Parks has gone a long way in helping children from the community of Matero interact better with peers, families, and schoolteachers, as well as express their thoughts and feelings. Children who attend Safe Park regularly tend to have more friends, get into fewer fights, and are able to disclose cases of abuse at home to a child care worker. Our child care workers can then refer the case to the right counselor/agency.

Safe Parks
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