Pre-COVID-19 children’s activities in Addis
Schools all over the country have closed their doors in response to COVID-19 pandemic, leaving parents and caregivers scrambling to find daily activities for their children. Before that, when things were normal, an activity that became commonplace among kids of all ages was spending their weekends at game zones.
Like most children, Abel Getahun likes to spend his weekends at Gast Mall with friends and family. Abel is a twelve-year-old boy who lives around the corner and comes to spend his time at Gast every two weeks to enjoy his time with friends and family. His father, a business owner, says "I usually bring my children here so that they interact with other kids and enjoy their time." He usually goes down to the café and waits for his children to finish up. He gives them 500 hundred birr so that they can spend it on whatever they like.
Gast is located in CMC in front of St. Michael church, Addis Ababa. It was officially opened on May 7, 2019 and has an estimated number of 400-800 visitors a day.
Abel says, “My favorite game to play is Laser-tag, a tag game played where a person wears a vest with Infrared-sensitive targets and gets a laser gun. The goal is to shoot at the ‘enemy’ player's vest and register points. You can avoid being hit by hiding behind objects. The game is usually played in the dark and lasts up to 15 minutes.” Abel also enjoys activities such as the mirror maze, a room of mirrors where you often see copies of yourself spreading out to infinity. The goal is to find your way out.
Another thing he enjoys is the cinema and different types of popcorn that are served. Abel adds, “My younger sister Emenet, however, enjoys the Children’s Playhouse,” an indoor playground where children do various activities like climbing, jumping on trampolines and completing obstacle courses. It is for people above eight years of age.
But Gast has another activity for children younger than eight. It does not include trampolines and has less extreme obstacle courses. Emenet’s favorite game to play with her friends is the escape room, a game, in which, a team of players discover clues together, solve puzzles and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to progress and accomplish a specific goal, in a limited amount of time. Although they never find their way out, they still enjoy it.
Getahun says. “Children’s activity centers such as Gast is a very good initiative, however, he said there needs to be more outdoor activities for children as there are fewer places to go in Addis,“ adding that the amount of money spent in such places is also very high.
Another parent who gave his opinion was Tesfaye, a barber who says, “I am usually too busy to take my son Kaleb to do activities together.” He adds, “He usually does that with his mother and the fact that he cannot provide his son more than 50 birr for the games hurts him deeply but Kaleb always finds a way to make the best out of it, even if, this amount of money lasts him for fewer minutes.” He adds, “However, Kaleb and his wife enjoy spending time in Gast.” They usually eat ice-cream and enjoy walking inside doing window shopping.”
Getahun has been to South Africa before. He says, “I went on amusement rides, and the experience I had was wonderful. He adds, “I wish there are outdoor activities such as amusement parks or themes for children so that my children have more choices.”
Amusement parks are parks that feature various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. Amusement rides are one or more cars or trains traveling on rails travel such a route that passengers can safely experience extraordinary G-forces. Rollercoasters are among the classic and greatest attractions at folk festivals and in amusement parks. The thrilling sensation of traveling up high then plunging swiftly downward has kept roller coasters riders hooked decade after decade. One true advantage of this ride is the seemingly endless number of variations that can be created. Designers are always coming up with new tracks so people don’t get bored. These Amusement parks by nature are huge and need lots of investments.
However, there are still lots of outdoor activities that require lower investments when compared to Amusement parks. These are extreme sports such as go-kart racing, a variant of motorsport road racing with open-wheel, four-wheeled vehicles known as go-karts or shifter karts. They are usually raced on scaled-down circuits, although some professional kart racing is also raced in full-size motorsport circuits.
Paintball is also another extreme sport in which players compete, in teams or individually, to eliminate opponents by tagging them with capsules containing water-soluble dye and gelatin shell outside (referred to as paintballs) propelled from a device called a paintball marker (commonly referred to as a paintball gun).This Game is played on outdoor or indoor fields of varying sizes. A game field is scattered with natural or artificial terrain, which players use for cover.
Many indoor and outdoor facilities utilize inflatable objects (referred to as bunkers) of various sizes and shapes to create a layout designed to allow players to formulate plans or strategies. It is an intense game, considering the fact that you’re armed with a mask, ammunition and a paintball marker, but paintball is actually fun, an interactive way to build teamwork and get some exercise. It is primarily a team sport, which requires some amount of strategy and execution that can be done only when all the players work together as a team.
Getahun says “these types of businesses can cost a lot to open but its profits can be large and families would enjoy it and have more options.”
For instance, a go-kart business offers indoor racing opportunities for go-kart enthusiasts. Races include go-kart rentals, track use, and other race-related activities. Modern go-kart businesses grant drivers the opportunity to engage in low, medium, or high-speed races on indoor race tracks. Services include go-kart rental, safety gear rental, custom race options, and by-the-hour track use. A go-kart business can be a standalone entity or exist as part of a larger entertainment center, park, or public attraction.
According to studies made about go-kart business, while a go-karting business can cost a lot to open, its profits can be large. Go-kart businesses can make between USD 500,000 and USD 700,000 yearly, if they can manage to attract and retaining visitors. However, it is a good idea to join a franchise to increase service reliability. Individual facilities can spend thousands of dollars on financial and marketing advice.
Once the COVID-19 lockdown, which is still in effect lows over, children can go for fun activities in places such as Gast Mall, Edna Mall, Century Mall and the newly-opened Kuriftu Water Park. In that regard, there is a lot to explore by the business community when it comes to such businesses.
Ed.’s Note: Messay Zinnahbizu is an intern writer at The Reporter.
Contributed by Messay Zinnahbizu