A Chance to Play South Africa (ACTP) is a registered non-profit organisation based in Johannesburg,
South Africa. Launched in October 2011, ACTP promotes the right of all children in South Africa,
from birth to 18 years, to have access to safe, age- and ability-appropriate play as part of their development
and well-being.

Why is play in trouble?

Although play is one of the most important activities of childhood, it is also one of the most neglected of all the rights of children worldwide. Across South Africa, play rights and play environments are under threat mainly because play is generally not valued or recognised as important

Barriers to play include:

Lack of awareness of the
importance of play and

Not enough play spaces near to
children’s homes

Poor and hazardous

Many children don’t have
gardens or yards to play in
(urban planning)

Dangerous traffic – so parents
don’t want their children to walk

Crime, child trafficking, sexual
abuse – parents are afraid for
their children’s safety
Parents are too busy – don’t
have the time to take their
children to play

Resistance to children‘s use of
public spaces

Lack of access to nature

Pressure for educational

The growing role of electronic

Marketing and
commercialisation of play
– these play spaces are

Other children who are play deficit include:

Girls who may be burdened
with chores and childcare.

Children with disabilities,
especially those who are
physically challenged for whom
there are almost no suitable
play facilities anywhere in
South Africa.

Focus is often on child survival
with little emphasis on the
broader needs of the child.

Let’s get more children playing!

In 2008, international child rights organisation, terre des hommes Germany (TDH) with the support of the VW Group Works Council, initiated the A Chance to Play Programme in South Africa in the run-up to World Cup 2010. This special programme was launched with a view to contributing to a World Cup for all: Focussing on socially marginalised children and young people, opportunities for playing and sport, linked with learning and training programmes, were created, allowing boys and girls to learn and to hold their own: on the playing field and in the game of life.

Publishing of the A Chance to Play Manual in 2009. It was distributed freely to NGOs throughout South Africa
and other SADC countries. The Manual is a comprehensive guide to the right to play and play activities. It is
the basic guide for ACTP’s training courses. In 2017, an updated edition was published which is available for free download from the Resources Page

In order to maintain the momentum of the A Chance to Play programme, a 3-day Strategic Planning Conference was held in October 2011. 15 partner organisations from 6 Southern African countries participated. A founding document was signed and a consortium, A Chance to Play Southern Africa, was launched with continued support from TDH.

By 2012, the Onsite Training Course had proved to be very successful. ACTP has trained play facilitators in Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa, who continue to promote and enable the child’s right to play in their regions. Training courses, sponsored by TDH, are held annually.

ACTP was represented at the launch of UN General Comment 17 (2013) in Geneva.

By 2014, thousands of Play Today parent information pamphlets that highlight the importance of play in four languages had been printed and distributed throughout the SADC region. The final translation (isiXhosa) was completed in 2014.

• The Play Today parent and facilitators’ booklets provide guidelines for stimulation from birth to 6 years, The parent booklet has key words in all 11 local languages. This programme was piloted in 7 provinces in 2015.
• A Success Story booklet that provides evidence of the impact of ACTP training was completed in 2015.

• Production of the Play Policy Brief (2017) – a well-researched analysis of play policies in relevant government departments in South Africa. Its conclusions direct us to gaps in play provision in South Africa, especially for older children, adolescents, and children with special needs.

• A distance course “Principles and Practices in Enabling the Child’s Right to Play” was piloted in 2018. It
was developed to increase access to training and to reduce costs. Support and evaluation is done through
assignments and virtual discussion sessions.
• In 2018, the Play Forum model which enables communities to take the lead in creating opportunities and
spaces for children of all ages and abilities to play, was implemented in 3 areas (Soweto, Pietermaritzburg and
Diepsloot) by partner organisations.
• Recreation and Sports officers from the Jo’burg Department of Sport and Recreation were trained with funds
from the National Lotteries Commission.

• A play forum was created in Diepkloof, Soweto in partnership with the Jo’burg Department of Sport
and Recreation and ChildLine Gauteng. For the first time, play forum members received training and embarked
on an ambitious project to build a playground after consultation with children.

• Development in June 2020 of “The Play Bubble Model for enabling PLAY during the COVID-19 Lockdown”
endorsed by 19 NGOs
• Development of an online Workshop Series because of restrictions placed on face-to-face training by the COVID pandemic. The series was successfully piloted in September 2020.

Meet the team



Phakeme Mahlangu



Board Member

Boipelo Lekwane

Community Engagement

Zolisa Sigabi

Stakeholder Liaison

Thandi Gumbi

Board Secretary 

Gcobani Zonke

Board Treasurer


Child Participation Advisor 

Elaine Persona


Laurel Magubane

Board Member


Cynthia Morrison

Director, A Chance to Play South Africa

A qualified speech therapist, she founded the South African Toy Libraries Association in 1993 and was the President of the International Toy Libraries Association from 2002 – 2011. Cynthia co-developed the ACTP Distance Training Course. She is a Play Champion.

Phakeme Mahlangu

Trainer, A Chance to Play South Africa
Phakeme is a psychology graduate, with a passion for community work especially the protection of children. He has been at Childline for the past 5 years, where he wears many hats! Phakeme conducted training on behalf of ACTP in 2019/2020 and has become a play champion in the process!

Sharon Shevil

Please provide description
For many years, Sharon was involved in the field of Early Childhood Education as a Teacher, Principal, Teacher Trainer and Programme Co-Ordinator in the urban, periurban and rural areas of KZN. She progressed to the field of Children’s Rights where, amongst other things, she was actively involved in developing play programmes and running workshops about child protection. Sharon gave presentations throughout South Africa as well as in London, Israel, Belgium, Tanzania and Uganda.

Boipelo Lekwane

Community Engagement

Boipelo has, over the years, worked and immersed herself in education and] training focusing on holistic child care and development, play and the importance of play. She is a self-professed child and play advocate.

Zolisa Sigabi

Stakeholder Liaison

Zolisa’s career in the media and communications industry spans over three decades at various levels on Radio, Television and government. She possesses valuable skills acquired from a variety of challenging operational, senior Leadership/Management functions within the Media, government and in NGOs. Zolisa serves on a number of Boards including Masimanyane Women’s Rights International – an equality and social justice Organisation.

Thandi Gumbi


Thandi, Director of Breakthru Community Action, has wide experience in the NPO Children’s sector as well as in the Education sector. Her current passion is Adult Education with a special focus on ways of learning that advocate for and support the wellbeing of children.

Gcobani Zonke


Gcobani is the Deputy President of Ubuntu
Pathways. He studied educational theory at Vista and Nelson Mandela Universities followed by a scholarship to study science and maths at Leeds University. Drawing on his vast experience in the educational field as a teacher and Deputy Principal and in co-founding a Program which empowered learners with leadership skills through experiential learning methodology, Gcobani transformed Ubuntu Pathways from a small group of local people into a multimillion rand organization reaching 40 000 community members.

Je’anna Clements

Child Participation Advisor

Je’anna Clements (B.A. Psych Hons.) is a writer with a commitment to furthering the fulfillment of young people’s human rights, with a special focus on the rights to participation, education and play. She is a facilitator and international facilitator-trainer in the growing field of Self-Directed Education (SDE), a form of education that is consent based and brings these three rights fully into play. She is the author of the forthcoming Helping The Butterfly Hatch series of books intended to support public education in transitioning to SDE.

Elaine Persona

Elaine’s extensive experience in both the NPO and tertiary education sectors brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to complement the dedicated team at ACTP. She is motivated by her passion for the rights of children and the provision of opportunities to all children for their future growth and development.

Laurel Magubane

Board Member

Laurel holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology obtained at RAU University. She started her career as a teacher, but soon progressed to working with learners with barriers to learning and development, psycho – social challenges. Laurel realised that she could make a difference by helping children to learn through play. After retiring she started a toy library in collaboration with the Community Literacy and Numeracy Group (CLING) Evaton North.

The Group Works Council is made up of works councillors (workers’ representatives) from the auto corporations Volkswagen and Audi and their subsidiaries. Expanding international works council activities began early on, based on the realisation that problems stop neither at the site nor at national borders. Milestones were the foundation of the VW group’s European Works Council in 1990 and the Global Works Council in 1998. Equally, the signing of its Social Charter in 2002 was a response to the internationalisation of the group and the challenges of globalisation; it is binding on Volkswagen’s 360,000 employees worldwide.

Back in 1998, employees at Volkswagen AG and other national and international group subsidiaries started collecting for projects for disadvantaged children. To mark the millennium, the Group Works Council in 1999/2000 called on the workforce to donate an hour’s wage to launch projects for street children. Since then they have found many different ways of supporting this campaign, known as “One hour for the future – Volkswagen workforce helps children in need”. Projects for disadvantaged boys and girls are now funded at Volkswagen locations in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa and Germany. Through “helping them to help themselves” the workers hope to make a lasting contribution to improving the lives of children and their families. With “A Chance to Play” the Volkswagen Group Works Council has extended this commitment and provided the financial basis for the programme to grow further.