An Evening with Amowi Phillips

Playtime in Africa:
Meeting the MDGs through Child-Centered Urban Spaces


Join us for a discussion with special guest

Lawyer, educator and civil society activist
International Representative, Mmofra Foundation



Monday, March 3, 2014

6 - 6:30 p.m. | Reception
6:30 - 7:30 p.m. | Presentation

4 Columbus Circle (58th Street and Eighth Avenue)
New York, NY



UNA Members: FREE
UNA Student Members: FREE
Guests and Non-Members: $15

Ghana's capital Accra is a young city, where almost two-thirds of the population is under the age of 15, and where places intended for children's activities rarely take into account real issues around their creativity and safety. Since local development often fails to design with children in mind, and with a cultural lack of public green space utilization in Accra, children are left to create their own play spaces, often in unsafe or unsuitable environments.

A former legal practitioner with a life-long interest in improving the lives of women and children in Ghana, Amowi Phillips uses compelling anecdotes and images to describe how her search for new thinking in addressing the Millennium Development Goals has launched an unexpected encore career as a champion of child-centered spaces and design in urban Africa.

Underlying her passion is a family legacy of visionary activism for children — her mother was the writer and child advocate Efua T. Sutherland, whose poetic prose uplifted a stunning 1960s photo essay called Playtime in Africa, and preceded some of the West's foremost modern authorities on the importance of play. She is the driving force behind the Playtime in Africa initiative, a creative experiment which works to transform a vision for a child-centered, environmental-friendly park, that blends playtime with an appreciation for local culture, into a reality.

In the heart of the Dzorwulu neighborhood, Mmofra Foundation has long maintained two acres of undeveloped land as a green urban oasis. Host to a flourishing market garden in the recent past, this site will now gradually become the home of the Playtime in Africa park concept, blending the existing greenery with sustainably designed indoor and outdoor spaces. Determined to demonstrate that play spaces and creative play are both vital and achievable, the foundation has established contacts with professionals and like-minded people all over the world, in the realization of this important project.

Join us in welcoming Amowi Phillips this evening, as she discusses how an extraordinary movement, with children at its core, is implanting transformative ideas about creative, playful solutions in the challenges of 21st-century urban living in Africa.

Amowi Phillips was born in Ghana, where she worked as a lawyer, an advocate for women and children, and a developer of creative content for children through the cultural non-profit Mmofra Foundation (mmofra means "children").

As an adjunct professor at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, she has developed unique ways of interpreting and connecting Africa to both the college classes she teaches and the community at large. Her creative collaborations linking Ghana and the Spokane community include two children's audio-books, the reclamation of a historic photographic archive, and an innovative approach to virtual volunteering with students.

She is president of the Spokane-based nonprofit Friends of Mmofra which connects youth to community space and culture.

Currently, she leads the Playtime in Africa Initiative, a project which is pioneering the design of child-centered spaces in Ghana's capital city, Accra, through local and global collaboration.





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