Playtime for Parents
Arjun is the CEO of Teleradiology Solutions, a JCAHOaccredited company that provides teleradiology services to hospitals around the globe. The company also provides subspecialty consultations in cardiovascular and oncologic imaging to hospitals in India. Arjun can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].
The laughter of a child can put life into perspective.
As an entrepreneur and parent, I know that fi rsthand. I believe that the fundamental right of each child is uninhibited and unrestricted playtime. The happiness derived from zipping down a slide, climbing up a jungle gym and bopping around on a seesaw needs no explanation or description. Unfortunately, some children in our country don’t ever get to experience the wonders of a playground, let alone playtime.
All across India, there are millions of children who aren’t given the opportunity to truly be a kid. This is due in large part to the fact that there simply isn’t enough space for them toplay. While the richer children have playgrounds at school, in their neighborhood and at the clubs they visit, the poorer children must play in the sandpits of construction sites.
As successful entrepreneurs, my wife Sunita and I felt a keen desire to give back to our community in Bangalore. Living in an exclusive neighborhood, our children have almost everything they could ever need or want. However, the same is not true for children from poorer neighborhoods. There are many families who simply cannot afford to offer their children life’s simplest pleasures.
With this in mind, we decided to create the People4People trust fund for the construction of playgrounds. The mission of this trust fund is to give poor children a part of their childhood back. We provide children with reasons to laugh, smile and form memories with their peers.
When we put up our fi rst playground in Whitefi eld, Bangalore, the children were on the slide even before the paint dried. They had been waiting so long for their own playground that they couldn’t stand by and watch. The true joy and sparkle in their eyes was more than worth it. But although the results were beautiful, the process itself proved arduous.
One of the main hurdles we faced was fi nding a playground manufacturer who would deliver rapidly and at a low cost. Playgrounds for children are not a priority in India, which makes it diffi cult to plan for their construction.
Initially, we were using our own funds and donations from friends, including those raised through an EO Bangalore chapter initiative, to build playgrounds in contract with a playground manufacturer. However, the manufacturer’s rates were high and his delivery time was slow. We decided to leverage our experience as entrepreneurs in high-tech telemedicine and build low-tech playground units. We gained the confi dence and technical input we needed by picking the brains of our EO friends.
After every playground we install, we take our children along to see the results. We feel this teaches them to straddle and understand both worlds: the one they live in and the one less privileged. Throughout this experience, we have learned that perseverance and diligence pay off in the end.
We also discovered that children do not need very much to make them happy. If you have a good idea, even if it seems straightforward, it is likely that there are several better ways to implement it. Entrepreneurship is a creative, passionate process, and I believe a portion of that should be directed to social good.
Since we started People4People, we have put up 30 playgrounds in India, including one in a village that had been affected by the tsunami in 2004.
We will continue to rally those dedicated to the cause of children and put up playgrounds in poorer localities. All the while, we will remember that tomorrow belongs to the children of today, and that even the simplest ideas can change the lives of many.