Hero photograph
The very happy recipients of a RORP playground


Rotary Club of Nunawading —

Playgrounds which would otherwise have gone to landfill have been rescued by Rotarians.

Article submitted by the Rotary Club of Nunawading

In Australia, we take a lot of things for granted – including the school and council playgrounds that are beloved by generations of kids and parents across the country.

But in countries like Sri Lanka, Timor L’Este, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Nepal and Egypt, many children grow up without experiencing the joy of flying high on a swing, skimming down a slide on a warm summer day, hanging from monkey bars, or simply hanging out with other kids in a playground tower.

In Australia, playgrounds can have a life as short as 4 years or as long as 20 years, before they need to be upgraded or replaced. By Australian standards, it is deemed uneconomical or unsafe to re-install them in another park or school, so landfill or potentially recycling some components used to be the only option.

Enter RORP!

RORP was established 4 years ago by PP Peter Cribb from the Rotary Club of Flemington Kensington (RC FK) in D9800. The original RORP covered all 5 Victorian Districts. Over time, D9790 and D9820 formed their own RORP teams, with RC FK looking after the remaining districts under the banner of RORP Central. Since RORPs’ inception some 120 playgrounds which would otherwise have gone to landfill have been rescued by Rotarians. Not only have all these playgrounds not gone to landfill, they have been “harvested” at the time the contractor has commenced demolition of the playground. Each separate piece of the playground is coded with a part number and color, and then the pieces are stored pending dispatch to a developing nation where they will bring untold joy and excitement to new generations of children.

Early this year, Peter was looking to pass on the RORP Central baton to another club which could make an ongoing commitment to source, harvest, store, and dispatch playgrounds. Rtn Bob Allardice and the Rotary Club of Nunawading were excited to take up the challenge, and since then have harvested another 25 playgrounds. They range in size and condition – but all of them are inspected to ensure that they can be safely shipped in a container and re-installed overseas.

A playground in Victoria prior to its removal and upgrade

A playground with all of its’ parts numbered, ready to be disassembled and stored, prior to shipping overseas

Once a playground has been pulled apart, all the components are transported by ute or truck (whichever can be sourced from a friendly Rotarian for free) to a storage site. RC Nunawading has been given an extraordinary amount of support by John Arena, from Arena Gardens in Kilsyth South, who has kindly been storing 19 of the playgrounds harvested this year, and which the pandemic to date has prevented from being shipped. Donations In Kind in West Footscray are also an invaluable partner, helping with storage, shipping, and interminable paperwork.

Once a playground has been shipped in a container to its destination, RORP’s local contact – most often a Rotary Club – will organize for the playgrounds to be sent to communities previously identified as keen to receive a playground, and oversee its installation. The installation is akin to the largest jigsaw you have ever seen – moulded parts like swings and slides, with dozens of steel poles and rails, bolts, and more bolts.

A RORP partnership operates between clubs in Districts 9810, 9800 and 9790, and works happily with the D9780 and D9820 RORP chapters. No challenge (rusty bolts which refuse to loosen, poles which refuse to relinquish their concrete foundations) is too great for these very determined Rotarians in their quest to make sure that every possible playground is saved and re-purposed for kids who have never even seen a swing or a slide, let alone enjoyed playing on one. 

Follow Rotary Overseas Recycled Playgrounds on facebook to see what’s happening, or to see how you can be involved in this amazing initiative which takes action locally - to help children globally and reduce waste to landfill.