There are more than 60 million refugees in the world right now. It truly is a crisis of global proportions. Fortunately, there are many amazing aid organizations that are working tirelessly to make sure that the refugee camps around the world are capable of providing enough food, water, and basic shelter so the people in the camps can survive. Of course, the emphasis here is on short-term survival, with hope that a better situation can be developed. Unfortunately, refugee camps often become much more permanent destinations for millions of people, so there comes a point where we have to expand our idea of what survival means over a longer period of time.
And when it comes to the 51% of refugees who are children, the ability to play is absolutely critical to their survival.
Now understandably, it's a tough sell to get childrens' play equipment a spot on a shipping pallet that's being used to transport things like food, medicine, and water. But what if play could catch a ride to regions in need without displacing other, more essential cargo? What if we could integrate the equipment into a mandatory part of the supply chain?
That's what we're doing right now with PlayPallets, a revolutionary shipping pallet that is also a completely self-contained play system. The design and construction of PlayPallets make it possible to very easily break down and rebuild them into sturdy play equipment, without any additional parts or compromising its ability to transport supplies. In fact, PlayPallets were engineered to the exact size of standard shipping pallets, and built to the same specs. They can handle as much weight as traditional pallets, and be transported by forklift just as easily.
For instance, our PlayPallet basketball model can be reassembled into two complete youth-sized basketball hoops. When a PlayPallet reaches the refugee camp at the end of its supply chain, the pallet is broken down based on basic instructions stamped onto the wood. Every part of the PlayPallet has a functional role: The top and bottom of the pallet are sheets of 5-ply that will serve as the backboards, pre-painted and marked for easy hoop installation. The interior support skeleton of the pallet is made of 1x4" planks that will help stabilize the basketball pole and backboard. Once those are removed, the patent pending ChannelCompartment can be accessed, where the accessories are securely packed for travel. For this model, it includes rims, nets, basketballs, air pumps, additional hardware, instructions for assembly, and rules. And finally, the frame of the pallet is made of thick beams that are used to create two sturdy poles for the hoops.
All it takes is a bit of elbow grease and PlayPallets can be transformed into two complete basketball hoops in minutes. Then, kids will have reliable equipment to play sports, have fun, and develop self-confidence, teamwork skills, and leadership abilities. Most importantly, these refugee children can get a chance to just be kids.
WHO ARE YOU?
We are a small team based in Brooklyn, NY. We like burritos, sports, and the smell of sawdust.
WHY THIS PROBLEM?
It seems like small potatoes at first. With all the problems refugee children are already facing, focusing on sports equipment might appear frivolous, but it's the best possible way for us to get involved based on our limited skill sets.
We believe in the healing power of sports, the sense of normalcy that reliable play equipment can provide, and the importance that kids everywhere get the chance to be kids.
There are already many much more capable organizations working on the big stuff. We just want to help where we see a need.
WHY NOT JUST SHIP NORMAL PLAY EQUIPMENT?
Great question! It's hard to make an argument to give space on a shipping pallet meant for food, water, medicine, and/or clothing to a bunch of bulky playthings. So we decided to make the playthings become the pallet.
DO THE PALLETS STILL WORK AS ACTUAL PALLETS?
Of course! They are made out of heat-treated SYP and measure 48"x40", just like a standard shipping pallet. They have 2-way forklift slots, and can carry the same amount of weight.
WHY DID YOU MAKE THEM OUT OF WOOD?
During the design and planning phase, we entertained various materials to be used in the creation of PlayPallets, but we ultimately settled on wood for a variety of reasons.
Wood is more environmentally friendly than other materials, and very widely available. It's workable by people in all cultures with very simple tools. And unlike specialty-molded plastic or metal, it can be easily repaired or replaced when it gets to its destination.
I GET THE BASKETBALL HOOPS, BUT CAN'T YOU PLAY SOCCER ANYWHERE AS LONG AS YOU HAVE A BALL?
Yeah. For sure. But part of our goal is to help kids in terrible situations establish a bit of normalcy and to feel like they have stuff that is just for them. Sure, you can play a pickup game with some sticks as goal markers, but with dedicated, standardized goals, you can rely on them enough to play fair games, form leagues, and teach/learn with much more effectiveness.