Sports Court/Playground Project in La Calle Real, Nicaragua

Sports Court and Playground Project  
in La Calle Real, Nicaragua

Learning Objectives:

  1. To provide a sustainable recreational resource for children and adults in La Calle Real, an impoverished community in rural Nicaragua.
  2. To provide the opportunity for club members to participate in the building of a sports court and children’s playground onsite in Nicaragua.
  3. To enable deeper understanding and mutual appreciation between two distinct cultures, Nicaragua and the United States.
Sometimes circumstances conspire to provide unexpected opportunities. Such was the case in adopting an International Service Project for the Rotary Club of Cameron Park in 2020. As background, it must be understood that the club had not mounted an I.S. project for over three years but had budgeted funds to conduct such a project annually in hopes of finding a project to pursue. President Dave Crofut and PE Mike Dugan agreed that developing an International Project was a top priority for the 2020 administrative year.
Two club members were deeply involved as Board Members of a small charitable organization based in Cameron Park California. Hal Young was the Founder and President of the Worldwide Child Relief Foundation (WCRF) and Dave Sargent was a long time Board Member and served as liaison to colleges and universities for intern recruitment for WCRF projects.  The Foundation had been involved in assisting the residents of the rural community of La Calle Real in North Central Nicaragua for over 14 years and had been successful in building a Community Center, conducting health projects, including water testing and purification strategies for residents and providing education and literacy enhancements for the community’s youth. By September of 2019, WCRF had built relationships as a means of supporting over 10 ongoing assistance and training projects to improve community health and nutrition, promote economic development - including a micro-loan program - and support acquisition of language and technology skills.
No International Service project can be undertaken successfully without a needs assessment by the receiving community. By working with both the adult and youth community councils which were created over a decade ago, WCRF had learned that the community lacked any facility for youth and adult recreation. With the agreement of the community’s adult and youth councils, the decision was made cooperatively to pursue the construction of a sports court and a children’s playground at the existing community center.
The initial planning occurred between the WCRF Board, the community council, and WCRF local staff in La Calle Real.  A proposal to the Board of the Cameron Park Rotary Club to partner with W.C.R.F. in sponsoring an International Service project to build a sports court and playground was approved by the Board for a total of $11,025.  
The project had several phases and included the following advantages:
  • The use of local labor and materials suppliers thereby providing needed employment opportunities.
  • The physical participation of members of the Rotary Club of Cameron Park in the project’s construction. Seven Rotarians volunteered to travel to Nicaragua to assist. That trip was scheduled to begin May 31, 2020.
  • The possibility of the development of other cooperative projects with W.C.R.F. after the club’s familiarization with the communities’ needs. 
  • The staff of the partner organization, WCRF, could provide ongoing maintenance and supervision of the facilities and organization of activities, such as tournaments and leagues. 
By March the Coronavirus pandemic intervened and caused the postponement of our Rotarians’ trip to Nicaragua, but construction proceeded supervised by W.C.R.F. staff. The lighted sports court was completed and will soon host volleyball and mini-soccer competitions. The retaining walls outlining the playground area are now completed. The last step is the clearing and leveling of the area and installation of the sports equipment.
 The club’s experience with this project has emphasized the value of partnering with other NGO’s whose knowledge, contacts, and familiarity with the targeted community have been previously established. The result in our case is an International Service project that will provide long term recreation and enjoyment in a community where no such opportunities had been available.  

Playground Containment Wall

Playground Containment Wall

Sports Court Lighting


Digging the foundation

Finished Community Center

 Mini Soccer Field Before Lights