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Join for Joy

location_on Netherlands

Playful education builds the next generation.

Join for Joy educates primary school teachers in the most rural areas of East Africa to implement sports and play activities into the curriculum of local schools. By doing so, children are stimulated to come to school and to keep coming to school. Through playful learning, they learn about essential topics such as (in)equality & develop life skills such as respect, self-confidence, assertiveness.

HundrED 2023


HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED Global Collection 2023

HundrED 2022

Web presence






Target group
April 2021
“For children here, play is more important than books. Most of them only come to school to play, which is a good thing. When they come to school to play, they will also be in class and get education!"

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

Children in the rural areas of East Africa often don't come to school. Those who do come to school get to experience the old-fashioned way of teaching, without attention for SEL. Girls and disabled children are frequently left out at school. This - in addition to daily struggles such as illnesses, violence, child marriages, early pregnancies & COVID-19 - leads to an enormous number of drop-outs.

How does your innovation work in practice?

Science has shown that children learn better through play. This is why we developed our sustainable sports and play program, in which primary school teachers change their mindsets about the way school 'should be' and learn how to implement SEL through sports and play at school.

Teachers learn how they can playfully teach children how to protect themselves against diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria and COVID-19. Topics that are taboo in many rural areas, such as sexual violence, child marriages and gender (in)equality are discussed. The sports and play activities are specifically aimed at the development of life skills for children, such as assertiveness, emotion management, empathy, self-confidence and respect. For children with a disability, sports and play are powerful means to make them look at possibilities instead of limitations.

This way, all children gain competences necessary to build themselves positive future and succeed in school, work, home and their communities.

How has it been spreading?

Join for Joy founded in 2011. We started out by organising sports camps for children in Kenya. Soon we found that there was a much more sustainable way of making a change: by transferring knowledge about playful learning to local teachers, who we now proudly call our 'Agents of Change'!

We have so far trained over 650 teachers, divided over 163 schools in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda & Zambia. This means that more than 529.750 children at schools and in the surrounding communities have gotten familiar with playful learning and have the chance to develop themselves into strong and resilient boys and girls with a positive outlook on their future.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

The consequences of the current pandemic make the mission of Join for Joy more important than ever before: it is our joint task to get children (back) to school!

Please contact Join for Joy for more information about playful learning, the sports and play program or possible collaborations.

Impact & scalability

HundrED Academy Reviews
Sources showcase the independent research, transferability, and something that can be worldwide adapted. Play-based learning techniques can be resourcefully used as pedagogy. Resources are documented and self-explanatory.
By integrating play with physical activity/education, this innovation will keep students active and engaged while learning important concepts and life skills. It fosters collaboration and is an effective way to engage students.
- Academy member
Academy review results
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process


Playfully learning to say "NO" to abuse.
On the countryside of Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Malawi, a carefree childhood for school children is anything but self-evident. Hard living conditions and bad environmental influences often lead to problems among young people such as leaving school, teenage pregnancies and drug or alcohol abuse. All these things that can be prevented in many cases with the right guidance, positive alternatives and meaningful education. The Join for Joy Sports and Play Program aims, among other things, to improve the resilience of girls and boys at participating schools.  A practical example:Does a child find it difficult to stand up for himself and say ”no”? With a new game, the teacher provokes assertive behaviour, in which children for example have to defend their own circle for intruders. The reward for desired behaviour is woven into the rules of the game. But just as important: the teacher then makes the translation to their daily life situation by discussing the displayed behaviour with the child in the context of practical situations. This helps the child to understand that in daily life it must also say ”no” if he or she does not want something at all.
Kelvin went back to school after hearing about the Sports and Play program!
Kelvin is eleven years old and lives with his grandparents in a remote village in Zambia. He dropped out of school and spent the past five years working on the land and taking care of the cattle. When he heard that his peers were enjoying sports and play at the local school, he decided to return to school. He is happy to be back, to learn new things and to be able to play.
Less-abled Addy finally feels part of his community because of sports & play!
Addy is 14 years old and has autism. Due to his disability, he was not allowed to play along with his classmatess for years. His teachers wanted to involve Addie, but they just didn't know how. Since 2019, Mutundu Primary School (Kenya) has been included in the Join for Joy Sports and Play program. Since the introduction of the program, a lot has changed for Addie. His teachers learnt during the trainings that small adjustments to playing activities allow the inclusion of every single child. Addy is now learning to look at possibilities instead of limitations. He plays along and is therefore accepted. Addy finally feels like a member of his community.
Mercy learns about malaria in the game "Don't Bite Me"!
Mercy is one of the competitive girls participating in the program. In this photo, you see a snapshot of the ‘Malaria Game’. By playing this game, children learn about the symptoms of malaria. When Mercy is bitten (tagged) by the malaria mosquito (tagger), Mercy shows one of the symptoms of malaria. When she is tagged free by one of the doctors, she is ‘cured’ and can run freely on the field again.

Spread of the innovation

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