Aug 18, 2016

The Power of Play in Times of Drought

Photo break for these boys at our rural centre
Photo break for these boys at our rural centre

“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul,” – Froebel.

It is this expression of play that we at Toybank constantly aim to provide to as many children in India.

 

Dear Toybank Supporter,

I am pleased to share with you this Toybank report and I’m also proud to mention that we’ve impacted the lives of almost 34,000 children up till July 2016! Specifically, for the months of June and July, Toybank has conducted 62 play sessions reaching out to 1769 children and we’ve also replaced toys across 23 centres. We thank you for your support so far as it has helped us reach out to underprivileged and rescued children and provided them with access to a variety of toys and games.

Toybank, under The Opentree Foundation, constantly works to provide children with access to healthy play and games to ultimately reach our long term goal of addressing development needs in children.

One of the biggest recent developments we’ve had at Toybank is the set-up of 22 Game Libraries in Beed, a Rural area in Maharashtra. The centres were set-up for 3175 children in response to providing them safe spaces and specifically distracting them from other hardships surrounding them such as the drought and farmer suicides, which were rampant in the area during the summer months.

While the adults were busy coping with their families' basic needs in the drought, Beed’s children had no option but to stay home or wander in the scorching sun. Therefore, the children's need and right to play-- which is fundamental to their mental and moral development- was being left unfulfilled.

The Game libraries were set-up in collaboration with Manavlok, an organization for the socio-economic upliftment of the rural poor. With the setting up of play centres for these kids, it is ensured that they are safe and indoors and most importantly that they are happy. Arti who studies at one of the centres has expressed her feelings about the set-up of the Library, ‘We are given so many toys and learn new games at every session. I wait to attend a play session at the game library’.

It’s not only the children, but the teachers who have seen the benefits of the Game libraries. Mr Chavan, the centre-in-charge at one of the Schools says, ‘The students are always so eager for the play sessions to begin. We have definitely seen an increase in the attendance rates at school and the play sessions keep the children energized. The neighbouring schools had seen us conduct play sessions and then opened Game libraries in their schools as well’. 

In addition to our rural set-ups, we’ve also been growing with our urban Game libraries. In June, the count of our libraries in Maharashtra was 251 and through this we’re impacting the lives of almost 34,000 children! With 145 of them being urban set-ups and 106 of the in the rural parts, all of these set-ups are thanks to your contribution and constant support!

With most of our children coming from underprivileged backgrounds, Toybank’s interventions ensure that each of these children are given the right to play and enjoy such an integral part of their childhood and are happy.

While we’re working with the underprivileged and at-risk children, we also make sure to sensitize their privileged counterparts and explain the power of play and the importance of play for children. In the months of June and July, we’ve worked with approximately 945 school children from 5 elite Schools and conducted workshops and toy collection drives with them. Our target in the coming year is to reach out to as many schools and better sensitize them on the importance of play. Avantika, one of our core volunteers and a grade 11 student at a school we work with says, ‘Toybank is special because they recognise that a toy is not a luxury, but a right. Toys form a significant part of an individual’s childhood, and are important for the child’s development and happiness. I will continue to support work and contribute, because I believe one of the finest acts of kindness is gifting a child happiness’.

 

Story from the Field:

14-year-old Sagar (name changed) is currently a regular student at the Utkarsha Balbhavan in Ahmednagar, which is one of Toybank’s rural Game library in Maharashtra. However, this was not always the case.

About a year ago, Sagar was a school dropout whose parents enrolled him to the Utkarsha Balbhavan. His parents earn a meagre source of income by selling old clothes and also have two other children to support. As a first generation learner, Sagar was a very restless boy but intelligent, with a special interest for drawing and art.

Every time Sagar came to the Balbhavan, the centre-in-charge was committed to him, and all the other students, and would encourage them to come regularly, with the added incentive being toys and games. Sagar soon became a regular student at the Balbhavan and come on a daily basis, with the extra excitement of knowing there would be a play session.

It was noticed at first, that during the play sessions, Sagar would take a game, get distracted, and not complete playing the full game, and subsequently take a new game or toy. The centre-in-charge and social worker acted upon this and sat with Sagar through a whole game and ran through how to play the game, step by step. As time progressed, Sagar would avidly play one game and concentrate on completing. At every play session, Sagar would pick up a different toy and through this learn concepts related to his school curriculum. The centre-in-charge noticed that Sagar had a strong like for numerical games and puzzles.

The play sessions and guidance by the centre coordinator have helped Sagar and through our continuous intervention we are positive Sagar will continue being a happy child.

 

Toybank will continue to do the work we do and not stop till every child has been given the right to enjoy their childhood, through toys, games and play. We thank you once again for your contribution and to continue supporting us please do hit the donate button on our Project page.

We look forward to your continued support to ensure that every child in India is given the childhood they deserve- a one that is happy and filled with experiences of play and games!

 

Warm regards,

Shweta Chari,

Founder and CEO, Toybank

Hopping, skipping and jumping away
Hopping, skipping and jumping away
Play session at a new Beed Centre
Play session at a new Beed Centre
Interns from Pearson College,UK, at a play session
Interns from Pearson College,UK, at a play session
Engrossed in play!
Engrossed in play!

Links:

May 25, 2016

Anger management through Play!

Their priced possessions!
Their priced possessions!

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” 

Toybank – The Opentree Foundation has been consistently working on ‘character building’ for children for the last 12 years and all this through the medium of play.

We believe in creating a world where children are allowed to be children, pure and happy and they learn life lessons through play. The combination of indoor board games and outdoor games allows for children to explore more about themselves and learn about their peers and surroundings. We have witnessed dramatic behavioural changes in the children we have been working with.

Before we share with you a case study of our child Muskan, here are the total numbers for financial year 2015-16.

  • Toybank now has 38,505 children in its case at the Toybank Impact Centers
    Out of these 15,273 children are from 83 Rural Centers of Maharashtra and,
    23,232 children are from the 167 Urban centers of Bombay.
  • Toybank conducted 15 sensitization workshops thus impacting the mindsets of over 3000 young adults and elders.
  • Through direct toy distributions, over 3200 children received toys that provided for an emotional connect for the children. This means that these kids get to own their own soft toys, cars and other such toys which they have never had a chance to even access.
  • We have over 350 volunteers over the span of the year come to our centers and volunteer their time with the children, conducting game play sessions, teaching children more about hygiene and value systems and all this through pure play activities!

Our work outcome in 2015-16 increased by a whopping 81% from the previous year. :-)

And, Dear donor, it was You that made this happen!

It truly has been such an exciting year that our plans for the coming financial year 2016-17 is a massive one! We are aiming to double our reach and scale our work to more Rural areas of Maharashtra thus impacting 65,000 children overall! We are very excited and work has begun full swing to achieve this.

Also, our work got covered by various media. The special moment was when our young Founder received the prestigious Game Changer India award for the work she has been doing for children over the last 12 years.

We also found famous Historian and Writer, William Darylymple wear our Toybank badge thus promoting our cause!

Below are a few testimonials from various stakeholders of Toybank:

“I've always believed that "If you want happiness for a lifetime - help the next generation". I'll always stand indebted to Toybank for allowing my team to play a part in their wonderful journey. A proud feeling indeed when we look back. The children, those who could possibly smile and gave us a reason too. This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love. I believe, Shweta Chari and her team of Toybankers have this miracle of love, the more they give, the more they experience. I and my team promise to continue to be a part of it because we believe that together we CAN make a difference! Heartiest Congratulations to Toybank for this Beautiful Celebration they share with us.”
- Sanchu Thomas (Volunteer)

“Toybank made me realize the impact and importance of play in a life of child. They are doing a commendable job by touching the untouched segments of the society, not only in Urban but also in rural India. I wish them best of luck and look ahead to work with then again.
 - Fuad Januhasan (Volunteer)

Stories from the Field:

Ten year old Muskan (name changed) lost her father at the age of three. She stays alone with her mother in a slum in Jogeshwari. Coming from a poor family, losing her father left an empty space in her life that no one thought could be filled.  Muskan would get very angry, frustrated and lash out at other kids when she saw them having fun. Watching other children have both their parents would trouble Muskan and she would not know how to express these emotions, which resulted in Muskan channelling these strong emotions through her anger and aggressive behaviour. This deeply worried Muskan's mother. Muskan would spend her days at our center but would never get along with any of the kids at the center. Toybank had opened a play center, but little did we know what a big and powerful impact it would have on little Muskan's life. The children at the center would have a play session once a week for two hours. Sessions would be held on subjects like art and craft, role play, and educational games. These two hours would be the highlight of Muskan's week. Muskan found a way through which she could express her emotion which she would earlier channel through her anger. Muskan is now able to express herself and her emotions freely and seldom gets angry. She has made new friends and is now a changed person. Slowly and steadily the empty space in Muskan's life is being filled.

Learning Opposites!
Learning Opposites!
Who is posing here?
Who is posing here?
Playing Tumbling Monkey
Playing Tumbling Monkey
Teacher's teaching Children Play lessons
Teacher's teaching Children Play lessons
Coding and Packing Games for our Libraries
Coding and Packing Games for our Libraries

Links:

Mar 1, 2016

A Childhood Regained

'Hello'!
'Hello'!

Since 2004, Toybank has been giving the lesser-privileged children the chance to rediscover their childhood and to gain the cognitive and social benefits of play. And it’s been possible thanks to generous donors like you. At Toybank, we believe in keeping you in the loop always. So here’s a wrap-up of our activities for the period December 2015 to January 2016. 

In these two months, here is how Toybank put your donations to use.

  • We set up 76 new play Impact Centres, bringing the power of play to 7,782 children
  • 5,500 children from the existing Toybank centres around India received fresh games & toys
  • 870 children got to take their favorite toy home through our distribution events
  • Toybank sensitized 100 adults and children through Power of Play sensitization Workshops held at schools, colleges and even Corporate offices
  • 8 new impact centres were opened for 1,669 children in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • Toybank volunteers ran in the Mumbai Marathon to raise public awareness about our organization.

These were the numbers. Now we’d like to share a story with you. It’s always heartening for us to hear about individual children, because that is where the dramatic results of our work make themselves apparent. Meet Shubham, whose story makes us especially proud. 

Shubham, 12 years old, lives with his parents and his two brothers in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra state. His parents are itinerant cloth sellers, who earn just about enough money to make ends meet. They belong to the Gondhali community, among which the prevalence of education is generally low. Such is the problem with Shubham’s family. The atmosphere in Shubham’s home is not conducive to learning. On the personal front, too, Shubham had challenges to meet. When Shubham first came to the Toybank centre, he did not have any desire to learn; besides, he also had issues with bad behaviour.

In 2015, Toybank had set up a fully-fledged impact centre at an NGO partner’s premises. He began to play games on his own. At first, he would leave one game half-finished and take up another one. Then, with encouragement from the local faculty, he would ensure that he completed one game before taking up another one. He began to tackle puzzles, including numerical ones, with relative ease. Then he even began to attempt more difficult puzzles. Motivated to complete each puzzle, he successfully overcame his lack of concentration.

The toys and games had a transformative effect on his personality as well. Having regained the sense of being a child through play, he improved his behavior. He became an outgoing, smiling boy again. 

Moreover, the opportunity to play with toys and games persuaded Shubham to come to the impact centre regularly. This allowed our NGO partner to teach Shubham on a regular basis. On his part, Shubham became keen to learn, because he knew that he could play only when he had studied properly. Thus, our impact centre managed to make learning fun for Shubham, and restored to him his sense of being a child, as his behavioural changes would indicate.

His is a textbook case study illustrating the truly transformative benefits of toys and games, and is a vindication of Toybank’s approach. And it is you who made it possible through your act of generosity. Will you continue with us on this journey of giving?

Consider making another donation for us through Global Giving, so we can bring the Right to Play to more children. As we usher in a new year, we at Toybank remain committed to our ideal of putting a toy or game in the hands of each child in the world. And we would love it if you came along for the journey. 

All smiles while playing Building Blocks!
All smiles while playing Building Blocks!
Engrossed building cars!
Engrossed building cars!
Piecing it together..
Piecing it together..
Shared Creativity
Shared Creativity

Links:

 
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