Professors design see-saws for US-Mexico border to allow children to play together

International

(ABC News) — As the debate over immigration and funding for a border wall marches on, two professors are using see-saws to bring fun and unity to the U.S. and Mexico border.

The bright pink, custom-made see-saws were brought Monday to Sunland Park, New Mexico, which is separated from neighboring Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, by a slatted border wall fence.

The see-saws, built to be able to fit through the slats of the fence, turned into a temporary, interactive playground right on the border as kids on the Mexico side of the wall ran up to play on them.

“The children thought it was very fun and they kept saying, ‘again, again,'” Virginia San Fratello, who helped design the see-saws, told “Good Morning America.” “It made me so happy to be able to come together with the children and their mothers across the border in a way that was joyful and positive.”

The see-saws are the brainchild of San Fratello, associate professor of interior design at San Jose State University, and Ronald Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

The pair came up with the idea for what they call the Teetertotter Wall in 2009. The seesaws are made of lightweight steel and were designed to be installed quickly and easily.

PHOTO: A child plays on a seesaw installed between the border fence that divides Mexico from the United States in Ciudad de Juarez, Mexico, July 28, 2019. The seesaw was designed by Ronald Rael, a professor of architecture in California.
A child plays on a seesaw installed between the border fence that divides Mexico from the United States in Ciudad de Juarez, Mexico, July 28, 2019. The seesaw was designed by Ronald Rael, a professor of architecture in California.more +

They see-saws were available for use at the border on Monday for around 30 minutes, according to San Fratello.

“At first I was nervous and a little anxious that we might be shut down by the [U.S.] Border Patrol, but we weren’t,” she said. “When I realized that we were going to be allowed to ‘play’ together on the seesaws it was exciting and exhilarating.”

San Fratello and Rael created the see-saw installation with the hope that people will see how “joyful it is to come together.”

“The border wall has been built to keep people apart but the reality is that most people who live along the border have friends, family and lives that transcend the border,” said San Fratello. “We should be working to build better relationships with our neighbors not to isolate ourselves from our neighbors.”

“We should be creating safe joyful spaces for children and their families on both sides of the border,” she added. “We should be uniting not dividing.”

Rael described the event Monday as one “filled with joy, excitement and togetherness.”

“The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S. – Mexico relations,” he shared on Instagram. “And children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.”

PHOTO: An American woman plays on a seesaw installed between the border fence that divides Mexico from the United States in Ciudad de Juarez, Mexico, July 28, 2019.
An American woman plays on a seesaw installed between the border fence that divides Mexico from the United States in Ciudad de Juarez, Mexico, July 28, 2019.more +
PHOTO: People play on a seesaw installed between the border fence that divides Mexico from the United States in Ciudad de Juarez, Mexico, July 28, 2019.
People play on a seesaw installed between the border fence that divides Mexico from the United States in Ciudad de Juarez, Mexico, July 28, 2019.more +

Though Monday’s installation was temporary, San Fratello said she and Rael hope to continue their project.

“It would be very exciting to have the opportunity to install more seesaws along the border, in the future, and in different places,” she said. “To bring people from both sides of the border together.”

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