HundrED shortlisted this innovation
Re-imagining cultural institutions for our youngest citizens
What we do?
Play Africa is pioneering, de-centralised children’s museum that creates inclusive spaces for high-quality play and playful learning. In six years of successful operations, we’ve become a platform to champion children’s rights, bring families together, and foster social inclusion through inspiring play exhibits and facilitated programmes.
In Johannesburg, we are based inside a former prison at the iconic Constitution Hill, just 15 metres from Nelson Mandela’s cell. We transform this apartheid-era prison from a site of humiliation, oppression and fear, into a joyful family playscape of discovery and learning. However, not every child can come to us, so we create pop-up experiences in the city itself -- in school halls, parks, community centres and inner city rooftops.
We developed a scalable, replicable model to create Play Africa experiences in a range of urban contexts. The majority of our visitors include children who from low-income homes, underserved communities, are physically or mentally disabled, neglected, orphaned, homeless, refugees or asylum seekers, physically and/or mentally abused or traumatised. We offer special access hours twice a month to make special provision, and remove additional barriers, for children with disabilities and special needs.
With a demonstrated track record of social impact, combined with world-class back-end controls and a realizable strategy for sustainable growth, we are poised to scale in several locations across sub-Saharan Africa and are looking for the right strategic partners.
Why we do it?
Everyone deserves access to safe environments where they can play, create, discover and connect with one another, so we make 21st-century, high-quality playful learning available to everyone – from all walks of life and abilities. Everyone who visits Play Africa can try new play experiences in science, technology, engineering, arts and math, that are locally-relevant and rooted in educational pedagogies. Over the last five years, we’ve created inclusive, scalable, appropriate solutions in a society that is highly polarized, deeply unequal and characterised by exclusion.
Five days a week, we offer free, safe and inclusive public play and educational spaces open to the 1 million children age 10 and under in greater Johannesburg, and increasingly attract visitors from neighbouring provinces. Besides making provision for play on site at Constitution Hill, we conduct right to play outreach and advocacy programmes in underserved communities that directly serve tens of thousands of children nationwide.