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Construction toy out of waste materials
Play intervention in refugees camp of Duinkirk

To understand the situation where refugees children grow up in, I went 4 for weeks to refugees camp of Duinkirk as field research for my Master project. The circumstances where horrible and inhuman to grow up in as a child. Although the camp was officially in the hands of the government, it was dominated by smugglers. They determined who was allowed to come in the camp and what price refugees needed to pay to them. So they determined the access to humanitarian aid. 

 This place was meant for 500 people, but there lived over 1500 refugees in this camp and whereof about 150 were children lived in miserable circumstances. The camp was a ticking time bomb. Rape, human trafficking, child abuse and violence were no exception. In the night of 10 april 2017 the camp was completely destroyed by a big fire.

Child-directed play

During this field research I discovered the importance of play for this children. but also the complexity to create play opportunities in this circumstances. Because of trauma’s during the flee and before that it’s for a lot of children extreme difficult to play together and trust each other, often this regulated in flights. By creating this construction toy/tool out of waste materials we discovered that when they builded and worked together they where able to play for a long time without any fights. To create and build something they needed each others help. In the chaos of fleeing this construction toy give them the tool to build there own child-friendly space to their own desires and fantasy. They got the tools to build for their own a small space where they could feel them safe.

With Limited resources, the construction toy out of waste material offer a wide range of play possibilities that stimulate creativity, curiosity and wonder. But above all, stimulate that children build, discover and play between children of different ages and cultural backgrounds.

This picture are from the day after the big fire in the refugees camp at the temporary emergency place where we did play interventions. 

Waste materials 

The construction toy/tool  is made out of waste material and is easily made by yourself by basic tools. For making the connection piece you can use old bike tubes or other rubber materials that you cut in to small pieces with a scissor and make small holes in it with a perforator. This connection piece you can combine with old fabrics and sticks. 



The illustration explains how you can make your own construction toy (dutch).

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