“Play is the highest form of research”- This quote from Albert Einstein gives some idea of how helpful it is for a child to have a park or playground while growing up. Neighboring country India’s capital, Delhi has a total of 18,000 parks, including 500 parks for children only. But, the picture of parks or playgrounds in Dhaka is completely different. Even in 2000, there were 150 playgrounds in Dhaka. But because of unplanned urbanization, there are currently only 24 playgrounds left. Due to this, the children of Dhaka city have to spend their leisure time playing games on various types of digital devices, or watching TV. This is creating obstacles in the way of their health and mental development.
World Population Review reports that Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, has a population of more than 20 million, making it the sixth most populous city in the world. That is, the population density per square kilometer area of Dhaka is 23 thousand 234 people. And almost 40 percent of this huge population of Dhaka are children. But, compared to that, Dhaka does not have enough parks or playgrounds for children. Dhaka’s two city corporations have 129 wards. According to a survey by Rajuk, 37 wards have no playgrounds or parks and the city needs 1,876 acres of playgrounds and 1,137 acres of parks, but Dhaka currently has only 294 acres of park and playground space.
According to the World Health Organization, an ideal city should have at least 9 square meters of open space for each person. Thus, 180 square kilometers of open space is required to transform Dhaka into an ideal city. Again, according to Global Standards, there should be at least 1 acre of playground for every 5000 people. As such, there is a need for 5000 fields for more than two crore people living in Dhaka. According to a source from the Bangladesh Institute of Planning, Dhaka’s two city corporations together have a total of 235 playgrounds. Of these, 141 playgrounds are owned by different institutions. From the rest, 42 playgrounds are open to the public, however, 16 of them are encroached on by various organizations and parties. Moreover, no dedicated field for girls.
In 2017, Dhaka South City Corporation undertook a project to develop 31 parks and playgrounds in the capital. 12 playgrounds were modernized under this project. Although the project expired in 2018, most of the playgrounds have not yet been vacated. Due to the lack of sufficient playgrounds, most of the children and teenagers of Dhaka have to spend their free time at home. They are also addicted to a variety of online games and the internet during their free time. Which is causing problems in children ranging from eye and heart problems, lack of concentration, and stunted physical and mental growth.
Why Playgrounds Are Disappearing?
In recent decades, many people from Bangladesh have been moving to Dhaka for a variety of reasons, such as education, medical treatment, jobs, and business. Therefore, new buildings, residential areas, and housing societies are being constructed in these vacant places to accommodate them. Even after this, there is still a need for 60,000 more apartments in Dhaka city. According to a report by REHAB, realtors sold around 10,000 flats in 2021 alone.
Apart from residences, various types of real estate such as new supermarkets, stationery, educational institutions, and hospitals are also being constructed to serve this increased population. As a result, the remaining empty spaces in the city are constantly decreasing along with playgrounds for children and teenagers. Even in 2000, there were a total of 150 playgrounds in Dhaka, which has decreased in the past 22 years to only 24 in 2021. A total of 24 playgrounds are located throughout the city, with 20 of them under the City Corporation, several of which have been renovated, but none of them are open to the public. As a result, children have to spend their free time at home which hinders their physical and mental development.
Importance of Playgrounds For Child Development
Sports have a special role in the physical and mental development of children. As a result, experienced doctors, nutritionists, and physicians suggest giving children enough opportunities to take part in sports. It is beneficial for children’s bodies and minds to engage in outdoor sports from an early age. Besides, sports are also a medium of education for children. Children engage in various forms of imagination while participating in sports. This helps in their creative development which will later serve them at various stages of their lives.
As a result of playing sports in the field, children are exposed to a variety of people with different thoughts and behaviors, which allows them to naturally learn communication, cooperation, and social skills. This also increases their social intelligence and friend circle which makes their self-confidence stronger. In addition, engaging in sports together with others can make children aware of the need for social interaction from an early age. Playing sports on the field further improves kids’ flexibility, balance, motor skills, and coordination. Moreover, physical activity improves children’s immune systems, which helps them fight off a variety of viruses and bacteria. In addition to these benefits, playing sports in the field also works the muscles of the body.
Rise Of Indoor Playground
Indoor playgrounds, sporting complexes or Children’s Entertainment and Education Centers are an old concept in the big cities of many countries. Indoor playgrounds are rapidly gaining popularity for sports, especially in colder countries. In addition to mega cities, indoor playgrounds with basketball, ice hockey, bowling arenas, swimming pools, obstacle courses, rock climbing, arcade gaming facilities are also being built in small towns. According to a report by Next Move Strategy Consulting, the global family indoor entertainment center market size was more than $32 billion in 2021. This market will grow at an average rate of more than 10 percent per year between 2022 and 2030 and will exceed $82 billion by 2030.
Like other countries in the world, Bangladesh has been organizing various types of sports like cricket, football, and volleyball in various indoor stadiums or playgrounds for a long time. Basically, from there, several indoor playgrounds have been established as an alternative to playgrounds in Dhaka and various cities around Dhaka. Having indoor playgrounds in the city can address the lack of playgrounds for most of the city’s children.
Such indoor playgrounds include Togi Fun World under Bashundhara City Shopping Complex, Future World at Jamuna Future Park, Babuland Playground, and Chittagong-based Boo Boo World. These indoor playgrounds are equipped with various facilities for children to play, as well as waiting rooms for parents to relax. However, all these family indoor entertainment centers target different age groups and offer a variety of services. Among these family entertainment centers, Babuland, after establishing its first indoor playground in Mirpur Shopping Complex in 2018, has established three more outlets in Uttara, Wari, and Badda.
They are the country’s largest indoor playground chain. Currently, they are capable of providing sports opportunities to around 40,000 children in the country every month and expect to serve at least 6 million children annually by 2027. Besides establishing two new branches in Dhaka in 2022, Babuland is also preparing to establish an indoor playground outside Dhaka in 2023. By 2027, it plans to build 50 branches across the country, to provide children with a safe and healthy environment for sports. Babuland also plans to expand its business in Southeast Asia.
In continuation of this, the company has already approved its first franchise. To do business in any industry, an entrepreneur needs to research and gather industry-related skills and knowledge to get a proper idea of that industry. Due to this many may hesitate to operate a business in this new industry. However, those interested in doing business in this sector by associating with organizations like Babuland can easily fulfill the growing needs of the industry by taking a Babuland franchise.
Bangladesh is the 8th most populous country in the world and 94th in terms of size. Rapid urbanization has been happening in the country since last decade and due to a lack of sustainable development, the required amount of playgrounds are not being built. In this regard, it is hoped that such indoor playground initiatives and the growth of this industry will help in the mental development of the country’s children who will become productive members of the country in the future.