Updated: Sep 26, 2019
It all started when we decided to manage our school’s waste on our own. Leaving the other wastes aside, in our school, every day almost 5 kg of food waste is being generated. Composting didn’t seem to be the ideal option since the waste being primarily cooked food waste. On the other hand, the quantity of food waste generated is not enough to run a biogas plant as well. After having consulted the waste management experts from an NGO called Hand-in-Hand, we decided to use ducks to consume the food waste generated by the school. But where will we host our ducks? That’s where the idea of the park got seeded. We decided to build a park that would serve as a place to manage our food waste with the help of ducks and also be the place where our children will play happily. It meant to be the Park of Joy.
Site for the Park of Joy
We wanted the park to serve as a symbol of Eco-Friendliness and Sustainable practices. This led us to choose recycled tires as the main construction material. It also seemed to be a perfect way for us to introduce upcycling to our children and to symbolize that nothing really is ‘waste’. Playgroundideas.org made the work much simpler for us with their guides and plans. We made use of their SketchUp models and made a 3-D model of the proposed playground using SketchUp.
A mock 3-D render of the Playground
The pictures of the model playground got both our teachers and children very excited, hence kick starting the whole process. We held our hands together with our children and the play began even before the park got constructed. Our children and friends made sure that we had tires pouring in every day.
Tires getting accumulated
It was even more motivating to see children riding tires to the school with broad smiles in their faces. By the end of two weeks since we started collecting, we had around 150 tires in place. And the construction begun.
Our school’s all-rounder Babu Bhaiya and his assistant took charge of digging the ground for burying tires and cement work. Our local welder Shakthi took care of the ironwork.
Welder Shakthi welding the tire climber
Babu Bhaiya and his asst. working on the car
The construction was both challenging and fun since we had to work with tires of varying sizes. We didn't have much option to be choosy about the tire sizes. The whole construction process seemed to be never ending and the workday got extended to the nights. The children were helpful throughout the process. They even helped us burying the tires.
Our X STD boys burying the tires
After the construction and assembling got done, there came the fun part which was painting the park. Since we wanted the park to be completely owned by the children, the park was decided to be painted by the children itself. We joined hands with the alumni of Young India Fellowship, Class of 2018, to paint the park along with the kids. The fellows came from various parts of India. Between March 22 and March 24, the entire park was painted by the fellows and the children together. The children were divided into groups headed by the fellows and the tasks were divided among the groups. The park enclosure wall was subdivided into panels and each group focused on painting their panel based on the panel's theme.
Children painting the car tires
Children painting the Chain of Cheers
Children painting the Hopper
Fellows, Children, and a Teacher at work
Painting the Wall of Us together
The whole painting event was organized like a camp where various workshops like Kathak, Self-awareness were also conducted by the fellows for the children. Children found three days to be fun and full of learning. It was good exposure for the children to interact with people from different parts of the country pursuing different career paths.
A fellow introducing himself
A group at work
Another group at work
After the Kathak Workshop
By the end of the third day, everyone was very much delighted to see the painting done by the children and the fellows together.
Fellows and the Children together
What’s a park without a garden in it? So, we decided to make one. Our children brought saplings from their houses. March 29 was our planting day when the saplings were planted. Children and Teachers joined hands together to plant the whole garden. IX STD boys helped in mixing the sand with manure whereas the younger children were helping with tasks such as watering.
Children with their saplings
Planting at progress
Our teacher planting a sapling
Here comes the completed park.
First comes the outer walls:
Pots of Love-1
Chain of Cheers
Pots of Love-2
Ocean of Kindness
Wall of Us
Trunk of Togetherness
Overall, it's the Park of Joy.
Park of Joy and it's front gate
Next comes the play items.
The Tire Climber
Tha Wah Car - Front
Tha Wah Car - Side
Multipurpose playing court
We wanted to make the inside walls both attractive as well as informational. Kudos to our in-house Communications Lead Ms. Rose Mary Joseph for having come up with excellent educational designs.
Numbers using Hand prints
Colors and Varying heights
Clock with a twist
Phases of the moon/Roman Numerals
Surprise ! We made more play items even outside the park.
Army of Worms
Bike - 1
Bike - 2
Both bikes together
On March 30, along with our school’s Annual Day function, the Park of Joy was inaugurated by Mr. Angelo Iruthayasamy, the Chief Education Officer of Kanchipuram along with our mentor Mr. Kannadasan, the Regional Manager of Hand-in-Hand.
And the play has began. Our children have also taken up the responsibility of watering the plants and the ducks have started managing our food waste.
Bunch of kids at the climber
A happy 'Tha Wah Car'
A girl in the climber
The Tire Climber
A happy 'Tha Wah Car' - 2
Kids and the Pyramid
The Hopper with smiles
Army of worms
Tha Wah Car again!
Children watering the plants
Ducks walking towards the food waste
Over the past six months, we have recycled around 250kg of paper, composted over a ton of organic material generated in the school.
Kid depositing waste
Composting in progress
As a school and a community, we have a long way to go in achieving zero waste and a lot more problems to address, but we are glad that we have started.
Thanks to various contributors for the photos esp. Yuvasri, Class of 2020
Thanks to Playgroundideas.org; Young India Fellows, Class of 2018; and the whole IJMHSS family for having made this entire project possible.