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Amira to open new playground for special needs children

Having just completed her appearance on the legendary Classics 2019 to great acclaim at the Sun Arena in Pretoria, young teenage soprano Amira Willighagen is all set for the grand opening of her new playground. This will be in Ikalafeng School, Sarafina, in the district of Tlokwe (Potchefstroom) on Wednesday, 24 July from 10:30. She will launch it herself at 11:00 and will also be singing for the audience there. All the children present will receive some ‘goodies’.   

This is to be the first of Amira’s playgrounds built specifically for children with special needs, who are either mentally or physically challenged. It is the eighth playground built by Amira’s charitable foundation, known as Gelukskinders.

The launch of the playground continues Amira’s dream that all children should be able to play happily in their schools and communities. And that they should have a specially designated area in which to do so. Amira’s firm belief is that to play makes children happy, and that happy children will learn better, and get better academic results.   

Obviously, this makes for happier, more contented and fulfilled adulthood, then to a happier family, neighbourhood and ultimately a better, more productive society for South Africa. A big dream for a small girl that started several years ago when Amira was just seven years old.

Her first playground was built in Ikageng in 2014 when she was still just 9 years of age, and by the end of 2019, she will have been involved in the building of 12 such playgrounds, serving the needs and play activities of about 10 000 children. Amira’s ultimate goal is to provide every school in the district of Tlokwe – all 37 – with such a playground.

In furthering her project, Amira and her foundation have undertaken to start providing schools with sports equipment too, especially for the older learners. This will begin in August with the donation of goal boxes with nets and balls for soccer, as well as goal boxes with nets, sticks and balls for hockey. Another innovation is that large outside blackboards will be provided at the playground as well, for fun and leisure purposes.

So where does all the money come from for these worthy projects? The fund started initially with Amira herself donating half her fee from her very first performance in South Africa, way back in 2014.   

She performed at the prestigious Starlight Classics under the auspices of Rand Merchant Bank, and First National Bank, which very kindly and generously matched her fee with donations of their own. From then on, the rest is history.  Amira continues to add to the fund, donating from her live earnings, and from the sale of her CD’s at various events.The foundation itself is run as a charitable business by committed volunteers, and it earns money from the sales of merchandise linked to Amira’s name and image. Free will donations continue to flow in from many fans all around the world from Asia to Australia, as well as Europe and the USA.

Clearly, Amira is a teenager with a big passion for helping others, and her efforts to grow the foundation from an idea she had when she was just a little girl of seven, have multiplied into something remarkable and praiseworthy. Her activities are to be highly commended, and it is hoped that, as her career grows from strength to strength, so will her charitable efforts to increase the wonderful work of the Gelukskinders Foundation – a great cause worth supporting!