Adventure castles for Kyrgyzstan

Experiential learning for disadvantaged children

The KuKuk-Kultur registered association from Stuttgart sponsored two projects in Kyrgyzstan in 2013/2014. In a kindergarten in Tamchy and at the "ÜMÜT NADJESCHDA" rehabilitation centre in Bishkek, two playgrounds were set up with the help of containers to support children with disabilities and learning difficulties. The playground container project is intended to bring enjoyment to the everyday lives of children living in refugee camps, slums and schools in poor regions of the world and stimulate the natural feeling of pleasure they get from exercise. This also includes not only the psychological and social development of the child, but also its cognitive development, as play stimulates a connective and process-oriented way of thinking.

Using containers it is possible to construct large adventure castles. These are flexible structural elements which even at elevated heights provide an opportunity to attach and connect together everything that the playful child desires. Together with slides, ladders, ropes, tunnels, swings and nets, containers can be used to construct a wide variety of play areas, angles and pathways. The main focus of this construction is the experience. The container is prepared and built in Germany at KuKuk-Kultur by experienced planners, artists, craftsmen and young people. KuKuk-Kultur places great value on ensuring that the local people are part of this process. For example, the external shell invites them to paint on it and change its design.

The two containers for Kyrgyzstan were designed to be different from one another in accordance with the requirements. The container for the kindergarten in Tamchy also served as a transport container. The materials and tools required were accommodated in the container so that a playground could be created on site. The container itself was also integrated into the playground.

The second container for ÜMÜT NADJESCHDA in Bishkek is a playground container that was prepared in advance in Germany in such a way that it could be set up without difficulty. It is fully adapted to the needs of a kindergarten child with a disability. The perception of the body and senses is to the fore here. Once it had reached its destination, it was set up and designed in different colours with the help of the children. Here too, the emphasis was placed on the integration of the new playground and the involvement of the local people.


KuKuk Kultur e.V.

Playing, living and learning in a safe environment is mostly a matter of course for many children, but is often denied to children in crisis areas and underdeveloped countries. Being able to give back a certain degree of light-heartedness to the adults of tomorrow is the aim of KuKuk Kultur e.V. Together with adolescents and young adults from Germany, the association designs outdoor spaces within just a few days for schools, kindergartens, private initiatives, towns, cities and municipalities.

KuKuk-Kultur e.V. is open to any form of projects that deal with the topic of play and lifestyle. KuKuk-Kultur projects are largely financed by donations, with KuKuk employees working on a volunteer basis. Some of the KuKuk-Kultur projects have been executed under the auspices of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. 


What phases has the project already reached?

The planning phase of the project lasted from October 2013 to a 4-day planning trip in January 2014. The containers were constructed and equipped in May. Between August and September, KuKuk-Kultur e.V. transported the containers to Kyrgyzstan and set them up on site together with the local institutions.

After the planning and construction phase had been completed, the evaluation phase was next on the agenda in December 2014. Special attention was paid here not only to the implementation, but also the use of the playground, as well as the reactions of the people from the local area. Furthermore, a survey was conducted in which the people involved were asked about quantitative and qualitative elements, such as the condition, defects or the general impact.

The kindergarten in Tamchy

For economic reasons the kindergarten in Tamchy was closed in the period from 1991 to 2007, mainly due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Kyrgyzstan. At the initiative of the parents and the village community, the dilapidated building was refurbished and space created once again for about 80 children who were particularly in need of help. A church organisation took over the rest of the refurbishment, thereby enabling full-day care for 160 children aged from two to six years.

The ÜMÜT NADJESCHDA rehabilitation centre

The ÜMÜT NADJESCHDA rehabilitation centre is a facility for children and adolescents who have been classified as non-educable. Non-educable means that children and adolescents do not receive any public funding whatsoever for kindergarten, school or corresponding therapies and are almost completely excluded from society. The work carried out with these children and adolescents takes the form of curative education, with elements of Waldorf education, the pedagogy of Janusz Korczak and other educational approaches, so that over the course of time half of the "non-educable" individuals can be transferred to state institutions. The work in the kindergarten is integrative, i.e. the siblings and children of employees and neighbours can be accepted.

What are the funds of the MAHLE FOUNDATION specifically used for?

From the beginning of the planning phase up to the evaluation, the project was financially supported by the MAHLE FOUNDATION. The MAHLE FOUNDATION paid for various personnel costs associated with conversions and installations, as well as the conceptual design. Moreover, the Foundation also participated in the financing of the container and financed various items of play equipment. Finally, the freight charges were paid for, among other things, including the on-site construction, as well as the advertising, insurance and evaluation. The project has now been completed.