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Jewish and Arab children create green play structures together
Detail: Portland, Oregon based designer Bill Fritts and dietician Michelle Ricker teamed up with Bezalel graduate students and Hand in Hand pupils in Israel to make environmentally friendly play structures. Fritts and Ricker travelled to Israel to spread some encouraging green messages by taking part in the Hybrid Design conference at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. They also spent four days at Jerusalem's Hand in Hand bilingual school for Jewish and Arab children.

"We were asked to do a project to get kids to participate with graduate design students to create structures of their design with our health-and-activity and kid-and-green outline, using simply found materials that cost basically nothing. When we found the bilingual school, we thought it was perfect. It was not just bringing together kids and grad students in design and green but also bringing together Jews and Arabs, so it elevated itself to this cross-cultural platform. We were really impressed and surprised by what we saw there," says Fritts. "Before we came to Israel, we didn't know about such things, about there being schools where Jewish and Arab children study together and play together. It was wonderful to see and very encouraging."

The idea behind the Hand in Hand foray was to gather environmentally friendly and recycled materials and, together with the children, to create structures that would improve the quality of life at the school. Fritts and Ricker went to the municipal dump and collected branches and other gardening waste, as well as a large red tarpaulin.

"The graduate design students went round the school with the children to get an idea of the children's needs," explains Ricker. "I think the students were also surprised by the harmony between the Jewish and the Arab children - and they live here, in Israel!"

The workshop at the school was based on the Fritts- Ricker Open Motion project which, as Fritts puts it, is based on his "sustainable environments and her [Ricker's] background in nutrition and health and movement, focused mostly on kids. Open Motion goes after play structures and play environments for kids to move in, using natural green materials."
Source: Based on “Natural playing field” by Barry Davis, The Jerusalem Post, June 11, 2010 Friday
Date: August 17 2010