From scrap to interactive playgrounds: Anthill Creations develops sustainable playscapes for underprivileged children

Anthill Creations is a Bangalore-based start-up that aims to make play accessible for all by creating sustainable playgrounds for underprivileged children. What started as a playground in one school later expanded to 300 playgrounds in 20 government schools across the country bringing happiness to over two lakh children.

By Nimisha S Pradeep  Published on  25 April 2022 5:56 AM GMT
From scrap to interactive playgrounds: Anthill Creations develops sustainable playscapes for underprivileged children

Hyderabad: In 2017 when three architecture students of IIT Kharagpur – Pooja Rai, Souradeep Paul, and Vishesh Gupta – saw how poor children living near their college played with tyres and other waste materials, they thought about building sustainable, interactive playgrounds for underprivileged children using waste materials like scrap tyres and metal drums. Thus, Anthill Creations was born. What started as a playground in one school later expanded to 300 playgrounds in 20 government schools across the country bringing happiness to over two lakh children.

Anthill Creations is a Bangalore-based start-up that aims to make play accessible for all by creating sustainable playgrounds for underprivileged children.




When they started, the idea of playing itself was viewed with a negative lens, says Swetha Manivannan, head of the business and design team of Anthill Creations. "In our initial days, we heard principals of some schools saying 'playing is a distraction'. People fail to understand the importance of playing in the overall development of children. For example, playing on a swing helps a child to improve their vestibular balance. In a broader sense, playing helps to inculcate and develop social skills, and it teaches you how to better communicate with a team," says Swetha.




Anthill's playgrounds usually consist of user-centric elements like the swing, slide, see-saw; pretend play elements like a lion or another animal representative of something else; and free elements like heaving hoops. "For example, in the game heaving hoops, tyres were suspended and we expected the children to crawl through them but they climbed over it instead," explains Swetha.

Upcycling scrap tyres

These are sustainable playgrounds built with scrap tyres, metallic drums, other recyclable wastes, and even bamboo. Once a school expresses its need to have a playground, the Anthill team visits the site. The materials required are then procured locally to build the playground. It takes a maximum of five to seven days to complete a playground. The Anthill team transforms a given space into interactive and sustainable playgrounds creating lighter, quicker and cheaper solutions.



Anthill has been reusing waste materials and turning them into utilities for children. "Tyres are available everywhere in the country. All companies have tyre wastes but do not have a proper mechanism to dispose of them. Some of these tyre wastes are managed in treatment plants that are highly polluting and the rest end up in landfills," says Swetha.

She adds, "At Anthill, we have upcycled almost 2,10,000 kg of tyres so far and have also saved 80,000 cubic feet of space that would have been otherwise used as landfills to dump these waste tyres and scrap materials."




What children like to play

Anthill first listens to the children before going ahead with the playground design. Immediately after a particular school expresses its need to have a playground, Anthill holds a conversation with the kids of that school about what they would like to have in their playground or what they like to play. "Ours is a user-centric playground where children decide what they like to do in their playground," adds Swetha. She also explains how parents and teachers are made aware of these play areas so that they start feeling like it is theirs and then look after it.


Pooja Rai, Co-founder of Anthill Creations


During the pandemic, when children could not go out and play, Anthill came out with 'Play-in-a-box' which consisted of five to seven games which the children could sit indoors and play.

More play time means more attendance

The impact of Anthill has been mainly social and ecological. Swetha says their outdoor playground initiatives have helped in the holistic development of almost 2 lakh children. Moreover, the attendance rate of students has gone up in many of the schools where such playgrounds were built. "Now, children go to school because they want to play," says Swetha.

Meanwhile, 60% of teachers observed improved attendance and 30% noticed higher enrolment requests. More than 60% of teachers also said that it has improved the children's attentiveness in class.






Anthill Creations is one of the many companies that will participate in [email protected] 3.0 (Innovations & New Knowledge in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), which will be held in Hyderabad in May 2022. [email protected] is a unique platform instituted by the Telangana municipal administration and urban development (MAUD) department in partnership with the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) for collaboration between start-ups/innovators, mentors, academic institutions, non-profits, funders, and state/city governments.

(NewsMeter is the formal media partner for [email protected] 3.0. NewsMeter has written this article in association with the Administration Staff College of India.)

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