The Real Play City Challenge 2022: Judges comment on top quality of entries

When the Real Play City Challenge placed an open call to recognize and celebrate projects around the world that are helping local communities overcome global challenges, many cities and urban practitioners stepped up. From building accessible playgrounds to creating climate-friendly play spaces here’s what members of our jury had to say about the incredible initiatives of our finalists.


“The entries demonstrate that with a bit of careful nurturing through platforms like RPCC, ‘public spaces for children to play’ can truly become a global movement.” Says Madhav Pai, Executive Director of WRI India Ross Centre, an Indian charity dedicated to building more sustainable cities. For Pai, one of the biggest attributes shown from entrants was the uniting power of play globally. So many communities across the world have been moved by the idea that underutilized spaces can do so much good when transformed to give children safe spaces to play.


“It was such a pleasure to view the entries from places around the world that are using the power of play to meet some of our most pressing urban challenges.” Says Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director of 8 80 Cities – an NGO dedicated to creating healthy, sustainable cities for all. “While many of the entries were highlighting a specific challenge theme, what stood out to me is how the projects had cross-cutting themes and demonstrated multiple benefits to the communities they were in.”


Dr. Bo Stejrne Thomsen, Vice-President and Chair of Learning through Play – an initiative of the LEGO Foundation dedicated to empowering children through play – was impressed at the range of ideas demonstrated. “The entries had a richness with many ways to play, and many ways to create engaging and lively urban environments.” He said. “They were able to describe with such an authenticity and detail, how a playful physical environment can shape the collective identity of the community, while being sensitive to the local traditions and materials.”

Executive Director at Resilient Cities Network, Lauren Sorkin, commented on the power each entry evoked to bring families and communities together. She found it very impressive that each initiative was able to build momentum in their respective communities. Sorkin believes that “Places and spaces that empower more children & adults to share in play and to celebrate community are a true inspiration.”


Above all, this year’s entrants have demonstrated incredible innovation in how and where they’ve created safe, nurturing environments for children – “Especially those targeting the mental wellness of girls living in communities affected by conflict in need of humanitarian support.” Says Rongedzayi Fambasayi, Managing Director for pioneering children’s museum Play Africa. “It is the resilience in these communities that has humbled me.”


The calibre of entrants this year have been impressive to say the least, as evidenced by comments from the challenge’s esteemed jury panel. We’re excited to be hosting the Real Play City Challenge Awards 2022, a virtual event celebrating and awarding these incredible playmakers for their commitment to creating opportunities for play and improving children’s lives.


Join us at 12PM GMT on November 18, 2022 as we celebrate these phenomenal winners at the RPCC Award Ceremony: