Opruimactie Oosterparkwijk
08-07-2021

All kids should be able to play outside

Sander Ploegstra, team leader at Central Medical Complex at UMCG Services, took the initiative for a clean-up campaign with colleagues in the Oosterpark neighbourhood in Groningen. With the support of the Vebego Foundation, he was able to inject a fantastic boost into an existing initiative with extra volunteers, cleaning equipment and a well-deserved snack. ‘Enjoying the outdoors together and at the same time doing something good for the environment; the perfect combination, right?’

Tackling litter and working on team building
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke, there was a lot of fear for the unknown. Also among children and partners. Playgrounds, for example, were less popular, says Sander. ‘Because there, on the slides, on the jungle gym and in the sandbox, infections could perhaps take place. Harrowing, because every kid should be able to play outside. The neighbour of a good friend of mine therefore decided to clean the jungle gyms in her neighbourhood twice a day. I thought that was a very appealing initiative. When I heard about the option of submitting a local project to the Vebego Foundation for financial support, we immediately approached her from UMCG Services to ask whether we could support her.

Controlling litter
The neighbour responded with an enthusiastic "Yes!" and suggested linking the support of the Vebego Foundation to the annual spring clean-up campaign Van Jop naar Hop. This is an initiative of Duurzaam Oosterparkwhere volunteers clear litter on the route from the OosterPark Youth Centre (JOP) to the city restaurant Het Oude Politiebureau (HOP). Together with Doreen de Jong of Hago Zorg, Sander turned it into a real team activity. ‘We had about 15 colleagues helping out that day; we collected bags of litter and cleaned dozens of playground equipment along the way. These are all small but significant steps to clean up the neighbourhood and, above all, to give children a space to play outside.

Donation Vebego Foundation
The day started with a hot cup of coffee and ended with a fully catered lunch. Aside from the catering, all the cleaning equipment, from waste bags to cleaning products and grippers, was donated by the Vebego Foundation. ‘We also left behind a nice supply of cleaning products, so that volunteers can be up and running in the future'. Sander adds: ‘It's also very positive for team building. It's a nice and relaxed way for colleagues to join forces and do something good for the environment and for others. And above all, it's a lot of fun; you're outdoors and you get to see each other in a different way than on the work floor.’

Existing initiative
Sander believes that the biggest success factor of the project is the way it ties in with an existing initiative. ‘The organisation and the volunteers already had solid roots in the neighbourhood, so you don't have to set up a lot of organisational things to create a great project. That’s a major benefit.’ Meanwhile, a second clean-up campaign has already been organised, including a closing lunch at Het Oude Politiebureau. ‘In fact, there is a group of volunteers who now collect litter every Monday, isn't that great? It’s wonderful to see how a financial boost from the Vebego Foundation can further strengthen such an initiative.’

Do you work at one of the Vebego companies and also have an initiative that would benefit from financial support? Submit your project to the Vebego Foundation!

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