According to the UNHCR, developing countries host 86% of the world’s refugees and about 51% of all refugees are children. To be clear, a refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. With so many children at refugee camps, their childhoods are impacted by the experience of fleeing their home country for fear of their safety. Humanitarian aid ships to them on wood pallets yet many children are left without toys.
Jon Robbins, a 33 year old advertising and design professional, wants to change that. Instead of shipping food, medicine, and water to refugee camps on one-way wood pallets, he wants to ship them on wood pallets that can be converted to sports equipment. That way, the kids at refugee camps can play and have some fun!
Jon said, “I was inspired by a friend telling me about his visit to a refugee camp and how eerily quiet it was. And it turns out that although more than half of the refugees in the camp are children, they aren’t playing, which is why it seemed so quiet. I love sports and I really believe in the importance and healing power of play, so I was inspired to try to see how to help get some sports equipment out to those children.
It’s a tough sell to get play equipment on a pallet that’s transporting food, water, and medicine to refugees, so we began designing and developing a pallet that is also a completely self-contained sports equipment system.”
His first patent-pending design is an all-inclusive basketball set. The 48×40 pallet includes instructions, spare parts, a hoop, net, and ball. Each pallet is designed to be reconstructed into two stand-alone basketball nets and includes everything needed to construct it. Other designs he has planned are soccer goals and skateboards. The wood pallets are manufactured in upstate New York.
According to the UNHCR, there are 21.3 million refugees in the world and less than 1% of the world’s refugees are ever resettled. Although refugee camps are intended to be a temporary stay, for many, they are long-term. Giving kids at refugee camps toys to play with gives them hope and joy.
For more information or to help the cause, visit the Play Pallets website.