In collaboration with Red Cross in Honiara Special Education Unit, we’re recovering school grounds destroyed during recent Solomon Island storms. By reframing ideas of play from a fixed equipment to an urban farm adventure, we aimed to build resilience and sustainable life skills that lead to career opportunities for students with disabilities, teachers, and families.

The Red Cross initially approached us for advice on the selection of play equipment for kids with disabilities. While there are a number of accessible play units on the market, what we were concerned about is the value added proposition or functional gain to the end users, and justification for the aid expenditure.

To many this would seem an insensitive proposition, but how do we balance the subjective and sometimes statutory obligation to provide equal opportunities for marginal groups with the fiscal imperative for a global improvement in community health? How do we avoid creating urban lifestyle related disabilities?

In this practical foreign aid situation, we needed to seriously consider the opportunity cost of spending on say a typical wheelchair swing, ~60K not including freight to SI, compared to providing food, shelter, and sustainable employment opportunities.

Applying urban health methodologies, we consider the community as a whole and not as an isolated niche with specific needs. The children with disabilities exist within a community of parents and teachers and must eventually graduate to be independent, employable and break the cycle of welfare dependence.

Turning lame play areas into an urban farm is the logic outcome of our method driven Urban Health approach in lieu of simply applying laws and standards with a disregard for their outcomes.

Red Cross Honiara

Red Cross Honiara Urban Health School Disaster recovery


Honiara School Recovery Red Cross Resilience Project

This school recovery initiative involved turning broken play structures into farm pieces. Columns and a ladder were enclosed to became a chicken house. Other columns and struts were turned into trellises for vanilla bean vines. New crop cultivars were introduced including citrus, coffee, and cocoa bean trees.  The students parents and teachers collectively learn to cultivate cook and eat or market the produce from their farm and graduates leave with real-world career experiences.

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