Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

In India, old tires are being transformed into fun and safe playground equipment

Pooja Rai believes all children should have access to a playground where they can let their imaginations run wild, and through Anthill Creations, she's helping make this happen at schools across India.

Rai is the founder and CEO of Anthill Creations, based in Bengaluru. In 2014, while still an architecture student, Rai went with a friend to donate food at an orphanage. She was shocked to see the kids playing with trash, like pipes they pretended were swords and old shoes they used as badminton rackets. "Play shouldn't just be part of a rich, privileged kid's lifestyle," Rai told The Christian Science Monitor. "All kids have a right to enjoy their childhoods."

She asked friends for donations to buy playground equipment, but then had an idea that would help both kids and the environment. Every year, roughly 100 million old tires are thrown away in India, and Rai figured she could turn some of that trash into treasure — in the form of playground equipment like tire swings, jungle gyms, tunnels, and sculptures.

Since Rai began Anthill Creations in 2016, the nonprofit has delivered tire playground equipment to 275 schools, public spaces, and refugee camps, and designed playspaces for blind children as well. The tires are all carefully looked over to make sure they are safe to use, and then painted bright colors and transformed into whatever each site requests. Read more about the creativity behind the designs at The Christian Science Monitor. Catherine Garcia