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12.10.2021 - Ausgabe: 5/2021

Each helper - a puzzle piece for the whole

© Angelika Görres, Thomas Müller

Rech is located directly on the Ahr river between the villages Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler and Schuld. The Eifel community has been destroyed by the flood disaster: once a magical village - today the community is a landscape of ruins. In the historic centre of the village, not one stone is left standing on another. Mayor Dominik Gieler reports: "13 houses were completely destroyed by the flood disaster in Rech. Six more have to be demolished. Out of 590 inhabitants, about 50 percent have been affected. Of these, 10 percent have lost everything. 40 percent of the people are severely affected by how the water flooded their houses."

So help of any kind is all the more important now. The so-called "play-container" project was first initiated by the association "Aktion Medeor", which is part of the alliance "Aktion Deutschland hilft" (Germany helps). From there, a network of several organisations was established. The contact to "Aktion Deutschland hilft" and the playground project in Rech was mainly established through the association "Die Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners e.V." (The Friends of Rudolf Steiner's Art of Education), which is also part of the alliance "Aktion Deutschland hilft". 

As the kindergartens in the Ahr valley are currently not available due to the floods, the KuKuK Kultur association was asked to provide a play and meeting room in which emergency educational programmes can be offered to the small children as well as a room be made available to the “older children”. So it is here where the 20-foot steel play container came into use. Two stairways made of robinia wood were installed inside. From here the children can climb up to the roof of the container. Once they reach the top, the children will find two huts and a tunnel, both made of robinia wood, too. Through the coloured plexiglass windows the climbing space and roof huts become soothing sensory spaces. On the roof, there is a view of the Ahr valley or of what is happening on the grounds. From one of the roof huts, a tube slide leads back down to the grounds. Seating platforms and small wooden rooms in and around the container provide opportunities for the children to rest and relax or to meet and interact with the teachers or other children. Due to the spacious interior of the container, activities are possible even when it rains.

"KuKuk Kultur e.V. is a non-profit association that has been building play and sensory spaces for children growing up in poverty or under difficult living conditions for already 20 years. Our philosophy is: Playing is not a luxury, but a necessity if a child is to grow up healthy! We are convinced that free play is of utmost importance for the development of every child and believe in its healing effect after traumatic experiences," says Ganimete Pronaj of KuKuk Kultur e.V. "The project in the Ahr Valley is a good example to show how play can help children in difficult and traumatic situations. On the one hand the play container provides structure and object constancy which shows that the things in the children’s environment remain as they remember them. This is especially important after a loss of control, as experienced in a traumatising environmental disaster. On the other hand, opportunities for creativity and free play are created. Role-playing and physical activity enable children to develop their own coping strategies for what they have experienced. “



Playground@Landscape (P@L) was on site at the play container and held an interview with architect Angelika Görres:


Thomas Müller (P@L): How are you involved in the "play-container" campaign?

Angelika Görres: I am actually just a citizen, but due to my professional activity as an architect, I have been working voluntarily in the field of village renewal in our village of Rech for a long time. Since everyone was given a task in the disaster situation, I was happy to dedicate myself to the implementation of the play container which is a heart matter for me.


P@L: Why does Rech need an "emergency playground"?

Angelika Görres: In the night of 14/15 July 2021, a flood disaster severely destroyed the Ahr valley. Many buildings, squares and roads were swept away by the masses of water. The infrastructure in the entire valley suffered considerably. Our playground, which was reopened in 2016 after months of work, was razed to the ground. 

In order to give at least a little bit of the "ideal" world back to the children who had already experienced severe restrictions during the Corona pandemic, I contacted "Aktion Medeor". Thus employees of the alliance "Germany helps" had visited us after the catastrophe and promised to set up a play container. 

In many telephone calls and on-site meetings, the relevant location was determined and the procedure for setting up the container was coordinated. The entire project was organised and implemented in less than two weeks. Many thanks to all supporters.

P@L: What is the most important aspect of this playground?

Angelika Görres: The playground creates space where the children can be by themselves, find distance from the disaster area and laugh, play and frolic around to their heart’s content. The things that were created for them in the village, such as the former children's playground, a football field and also a multi-generation playground with other play activities such as a slackline and a trampoline, were taken away from them overnight. They had and still have to witness a lot of suffering. But now again they have a place where they can just play and free their minds.


P@L: What does normality in everyday life make so important?

Angelika Görres: Normality and everyday life are of utmost importance. The children need normality to be distracted from the disaster and they need everyday life to continue to cope in the future. 

A normal everyday life in our village is currently impossible. In the past, the children used to walk to the bus stop, take the bus to school or kindergarten and in the afternoon they could go to the playground after having completed their homework and meet other children to play. Now a normal walk to the bus stop is simply impossible because of the many construction vehicles and the bad road conditions. Furthermore, some children even have to go to school in the afternoon because the school buildings have to be shared. 

So I campaigned for the implementation of this play container to provide the children with something that corresponds to their former everyday life.
 Together with the association KuKuK Kultur e.V., Mr. Friedrich Blume and employees of the campaign "Friends of Waldorf Education", the play container could be set up on 10.08.2021 in only one day.


In addition, an expansion to a forest kindergarten is planned for the future.

The playground equipment manufacturer ABC-TEAM Spielplatzgeräte GmbH has promised to construct a new playground. A double swing, a nest swing, a see-saw and a see-saw animal are planned for this site.


Children in the disaster area

The President of the National Chamber of Psychotherapists, Sabine Maur, says: "The most important message for the children is: It's over, you are safe." In addition to a safe environment, cuddly toys or other "safety objects" are also important. "For the time being, it's about first aid for their souls.


The flood disaster is not over yet!

If you wish to contact Ms Angelika Görres in Rech please address to the mayor's office in Rech:


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