Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children

by The Opentree Foundation
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Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Mental Well-being through play for 56,000 children
Kids explore a puzzle when the Play Center opened
Kids explore a puzzle when the Play Center opened

UNICEF report states that one in every four mothers is apprehensive of their child’s return to school after the pandemic. In developing countries like India, UNICEF projects an increase of 15% in child poverty and an additional 10 million child marriages by 2030. One of the critical setbacks is complete school closure in India and the lack of stable internet access to support online education.

Even after a year, at-risk children continue to grapple with learning losses and gaps in socio-emotional needs as schools remain shut. While social distancing hasn’t been easy on them, our team has supported their evolving needs. In April 2020, we modified our Play2Learn Program to provide our children with mental relief as they navigate an uncertain and unstable world that the pandemic had created for them. 

Ensuring Access to Quality Play at home or in school 

With some semblance of normalcy setting in with virtual learning and Toybank’s digital Play2Learn Kit, our children continue to have access to quality playtime and education. Many children are also receiving support through our Buddy Program. We also restocked new games and art materials at the Play2Smile Centers at our partner hospitals.

When children return to school, they ought to be anxious about the pandemic’s new rules and responsibilities. “The playsheets will ensure that children don’t face boredom, anxiety or distraction,” says Bhosle Ma’am from our rural Play2Learn Center.

India’s National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 encourages a play-based curriculum, and the Indian Financial Budget 2021-22 highlights the importance of toys and games as an expression of entertainment and learning. Hence, our teachers and partners look forward to using the Play2Learn Program to enable a play-based learning pedagogy at all learning levels. Teachers from Play2Learn Centers have shown keen interest in incorporating the Toybank Play2Learn Program within their curriculum as it has benefited children during the most challenging educational crises.

Teacher Workshops—Keeping the doors of learning open

Our Play2Learn Program digs deeper into the learning system by aiding our partner facilitators (teachers & caregivers) in understanding the value of play-based learning. It encourages a conscious effort to understand children’s developmental needs so that the facilitators can integrate play methods in the curriculum to address them. These were actively promoted and conducted through teacher training workshops virtually.

These 1.5-hour-long workshops support teachers in aligning play with their academic curriculum and actualizing NEP 2020’s vision—pedagogy must make education more experiential, holistic, integrated, inquiry-driven, discovery-oriented, learner-centred, discussion-based, flexible, and enjoyable. Teachers were briefed practically on how to incorporate play-based learning with the support of the Play2Learn Kit. “The workshop was beneficial and insightful, and we look forward to including the Play2Learn Kit into our time-tables or lesson plans when our schools reopen,” said Bhagwan Girgaonkar, Toybank Play2Learn Center coordinator. We’ve conducted a total of 12 workshops with 461 teachers across our Play2Learn Centers.

 

Story of Resilience: 

Stress of relocating and learning losses mitigated through Play for Yasha

With the financial repercussions of COVID, living in Malwani wasn’t an option for Yasha’s parents. The 7th grader’s family was forced to migrate to their native place. For months, Yasha and her two younger brothers had no online education access as her smartphone broke. The stress of moving to a new home, the ongoing pandemic and the loss of her school routine triggered learning regression in the child. 

A few months later, worried about the long gap in their children’s education, Yasha’s parents managed to repair the smartphone, along with arranging for notebooks and pens. Even though she struggled initially, Yasha soon began logging in for classes and asking her doubts. Toybank’s Program Officer (PO), however, noted that she wouldn’t solve Play2Learn Sheets. The PO asked her if she’d like to try some of the activities and curated many playsheets that Yasha happily engaged with. Recently, on a call with the PO, Yasha said, “I did not need a lot of mobile data and even though alone, I improved in my favourite subject—English.”

 

—Story shared by Teacher Mr Mahendra Vishwkarma from our Play2Learn Center in Malwani slums, Mumbai, India

 

Benefits of Toybank Play2Learn Program

  • Meaningful engagement at home during the lockdown
  • Accessible and self-directed learning
  • Safe spaces at home
  • Stimulating learning environment
  • Opportunity for normal development, building autonomy and exploration
  • Reducing the severity of potential trauma caused by fear and uncertainty
  • Enabling caregivers to focus on their responsibilities
  • Promoting opportunities for early learning and responsive caregiving

Outreach from December 2020 to February 2021 

Toybank Play2Learn Kit has ensured that daily, 51,657 children have continued to learn through play. It has guided and supported 2,150 teachers and 7,523 parents through 431 support groups. Toybank has also built new collaborations with organizations across 6 States and 1 Union territory in the country.

 

Toybank Buddy Program 

As the pandemic has stolen children’s precious time and memories with their school friends, Toybank’s Buddy Program provides them with the opportunity to build friendships based on mutual trust and learning. Our Big Buddies encourage our little ones to pursue a healthy lifestyle—from wearing masks, eating their pulses and green vegetables to teaching them indoor exercises. They’re always ready to lend a listening ear and provide a safe space for children to talk about their feelings or things that pique their curiousity. 

 

IPA Special Awards

Toybank was recognized among 23 global organizations by the International Play Association (IPA) for upholding the Right to Play and for demonstrating how we have respected, protected and promoted play during COVID-19. On February 24th, Toybank also presented its Play2Learn Program at the IPA Special Awards Webinar series on the theme of Empowering Play in the Digital Age alongside organizations from Indonesia, Portugal and the UK.

 

Bring happy childhoods to children through access to Quality Play

“When we make Play the foundation of learning, we teach the whole child.” 

We are determined to preserve and protect children’s Right to Play. While engaging in play enables children to build resilience, crucial life skills and develop holistically, it’s also the time they experience the most profound happiness and discover themselves. Playing is serious business for children, and we all can be a part of building a playful world filled with happy and stronger children with access to quality play. 

 

Thank you, and Happy Toybanking!

 

Play2Learn Kit outreach December '20-February '21
Play2Learn Kit outreach December '20-February '21
Yasha matches monuments with their cities
Yasha matches monuments with their cities
Children play Word Search before class begins
Children play Word Search before class begins
A child plays Jenga at Play2Smile partner hospital
A child plays Jenga at Play2Smile partner hospital
Teachers engaged at our virtual workshop
Teachers engaged at our virtual workshop
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Children revise and recall parts of various plants
Children revise and recall parts of various plants

With 2020 wrapped up, our human spirit is reflecting upon a year that one would rather forget. So that we learn from it and use the experience to make us stronger. We also reflected about how our children held through all that they lost out on and how their caregivers, our team and our dear supporters stepped up to back them

According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2020, 60% children now have access to smartphones. 1 in 10 households have bought a smartphone. However, access to a smartphone doesn’t ensure quality learning and the digital divide further widens the learning gap, especially for at-risk children. The report also highlights inadequate learning materials out of which most are textbooks and the rest dependent on smartphones and  internet connectivity.WhatsApp has been a far more popular and accessible medium for transferring learning materials and, therefore, Toybank disseminates its Play2Learn Kit through this medium. Caregivers from across the country, whether teachers struggling with the digital medium or parents who aren’t equipped financially or inadequately educated to support their children's learning needs, have found our kit beneficial.

Aligning our Play2Learn Kit with the national curriculum

With schools being shut for over 9 months since March 2020, our children’s play and learning opportunities have been hampered. While there is better news for high school children with schools reopening in some states of India, the younger children—preschool through primary grades—are still unable to access quality learning as they should in their formative years. To bridge these gaps, our Play2Learn Kit is aligned to academic topics in the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) curriculum and Diksha App. The kit is made for various age groups and learning levels ensuring that all children learn.

Making up for the online learning divide, our activities equip our children with a variety of skills and topics including science experiments, numerical and linguistic skills, geography, history, environmental studies, self-awareness and healthy habits. This alignment supports tutors as they do not have to uproot their lesson plans, but employ the kit as an aid. Children are able to independently learn even after the online class ends. Integrating play into learning has boosted their engagement and students who erstwhile struggled to grasp concepts online are more proactive.

Story of Resilience

How Divya overcame her fear of learning loss  

As Miss Sunanda from our government school partner rightly says, “Play is a medium that can help students learn unknowingly.” This couldn’t be truer in Divya’s case. The 13-year-old was a dedicated student who submitted her school assignments on time and proactively asked her teacher what to study each day. But as school remained shut, she feared about not being able to catch up with the syllabus at the same pace as her peers. Toybank’s Program Officers (PO) encouraged her to remain positive and motivated her to complete her homework as well as playsheets.  

Divya’s fears subsided once she engaged with our activities that fed her inquiring attitude to learn. She even tries to add little design elements to them before submission. One such activity, Types of Farming Word Search, enabled her to discover the different types of farming. On her next visit to her family’s or neighboring farms, she was able to identify the various types and their purposes.

Benefits of our Play2Learn Kits

  • Accessible and self-directed learning
  • Safe spaces at home
  • Staying active during the lockdown
  • Stimulating learning environment
  • Outlet for normal development, autonomy-building and exploration
  • Reduce the severity of potential trauma caused by fear and uncertainty
  • Promote opportunities for early learning and responsive caregiving

Outreach in September, October and November 2020

We have ensured that on a daily basis, 50,982 children in 6 states and 1 Union Territory of India have continued to learn through play with our Play2Learn Kit. We have guided and supported 2,133 teachers and 7,385 parents through 423 support groups, as of 30 November, 2020. 

Being a buddy in need

While children are losing out on social interactions during the pandemic, Toybank’s Buddy Program is providing them a circle of friendship, learning and growth to help them deal with isolation, confusion and everyday hardships. The program involves our volunteers playing the Big Buddy and conducting online Play2Learn Sessions, sharing, expressing, indulging in hobbies together. The sessions are all about the synergy between our children and volunteers and building resilience through new skills and positive experiences.

Bridging the gap with conversations

Every revolution begins with words. For play to get the importance it deserves and to bring a paradigm shift in people’s mindset where play is integrated into society at the subconscious level, we have started Toybank Bridge Series Webinars. We had our children and student volunteers share their experiences during the pandemic and their expectations from the future in our debut webinar Gen T: The Generation that Thrives—In Conversation with the Children of the Future. The second webinar Reimagining Child-friendly Spaces—In Conversation with Ratan Batliboi and Arzan Khambatta discussed why children need to be included in decisions while building child-friendly cities.

Play and learning as one

‘Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.’

We firmly believe in the all-pervading nature of Play. While it teaches important 21st-century life skills to children, it also enhances their academic learning. As we prioritize education, play must not and cannot be deprioritized. Each one of us, including you, are key to promoting play, reimagining learning and making happier childhoods and stronger children!

With the New Year here, we hope to see a renewed attitude towards play. And we also wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous and playful 2021!

Thank you and Happy Toybanking!

Children identify and sort word tenses in 3 bowls
Children identify and sort word tenses in 3 bowls
Outreach from September to November 2020
Outreach from September to November 2020
Learning a healthy routine one loop at a time
Learning a healthy routine one loop at a time
Divya facing her challenges through Word Search!
Divya facing her challenges through Word Search!
Building basic skills of numbers and colors
Building basic skills of numbers and colors

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Colorful and interactive math learning
Colorful and interactive math learning

Bhakti (name changed) avoided studying English and struggled with linguistic skills-based activities. For her, and millions of students from marginalized communities, a sudden shift from traditional classrooms to online schooling due to the pandemic has caused a weaning interest in studies and difficulty in grasping concepts. That apart, only 24% of households own smartphones, and a meager 11.5% have access to a computer and the internet, further widening the learning gaps. As an OECD report points out, low schooling quality before COVID-19 meant students learned inadequately and a disrupted academic year with prolonged remote learning are exacerbating this learning crisis.

Our partner teacher Harshal Phule (Latur district, Maharashtra), states, “The new and unfamiliar method of online learning has caused a lag in studies for our children. Internet disconnection has massively set back their progress as they end up missing an entire online class during power cuts which they can’t access again”.


Building resilience through PlayAtHome kits


Our Toybank PlayAtHome Kit has ensured that children can learn at any hour of the day and revisit it as many times as needed. Our team sends playsheets twice a day through the week. From mental relief and engagement, our PlayAtHome Kit now also focuses on bridging learning gaps. The downloadable and self-directed playsheets take excessive internet dependence out of the equation and allow children to learn in a more practical and independent way.

We also witnessed our children solve problems creatively when resources to do the activities weren’t available. Kids who didn’t have crayons at home, made color out of plant juices. The playkit encourages children to take initiative, overcome obstacles that impede their development and face challenges that will help them build resilience in the long run. Like Harshal Phule noted, “Giving the children control of their learning makes it more exciting for them. The activities on shape recognition, for example, encouraged children to practically draw, cut the shapes, and color by themselves.”


Benefits of our PlayAtHome initiative include:

  • Accessible and self-directed learning
  • Safe spaces at home
  • Staying active during the lockdown
  • Stimulating learning environment
  • Providing outlet for normal development, autonomy-building and exploration
  • Reduce the severity of potential trauma caused by fear and uncertainty
  • Supporting caregivers to focus on their responsibilities
  • Promote opportunities for early learning and responsive caregiving

Outreach in June, July & August 2020
(as of 28th August 2020)

We have ensured that on a daily basis, 48,887 children have continued to learn through play with our PlayAtHome kit. We have guided and supported 1,998 teachers and 6,871 parents through 402 support groups. 

We have come together with our existing collaborators, who have brought in new ones. Thus, we have formed a chain that has empowered us to take our interventions beyond the state of Maharashtra and reach out to the children in Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Ladakh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. To continue building more resilient and happy childhoods, we look forward to forming a similar nexus of old supporters and new ones through them. Strength in numbers, like it’s said.


The New Education Policy, finally recognizing Play-based learning

Our play approach, which has focused on discovery and participative learning, has also finally been visualized in the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) by the Union Cabinet. With a greater focus on experiential learning, under the new policy, the pedagogy will aim for holistic development of students by way of reducing curricular content and enhancing critical as well as creative thinking. Through multifaceted learning that includes numeracy, literacy, scientific and mathematical concepts, resilience-building activities, good personal hygiene and habits to stay healthy and safe, the PlayAtHome Kit enhances holistic learning of our children.

The NEP acknowledges the significance of fun and interactive learning at the early childhood stage and that a strong base of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) will promote better overall learning, development, and well-being. Toybank’s Play program has been working towards this for the past 16 years by curating play sessions and now the PlayAtHome kit through a needs based and age-appropriate lens.


Support Play to make #EveryChildResilient

“The true object of all human life is play.”

Crises have the tendency to make children grow up faster. Toybank’s endeavor is to ensure they remain children no matter what. Learning and playing must not stop for them. You, our dearest supporters, will enable us to continue providing mental relief and learning to our children for years to come.

Together, with you we look forward to strengthening our reach and building stronger and resilient children.
Hope you are all in the best health and spirits.

Thank you and Happy Toybanking!

Hands-on learning of manmade and natural resources
Hands-on learning of manmade and natural resources
Outreach from June to August 2020
Outreach from June to August 2020
Children discussing good and bad eating habits
Children discussing good and bad eating habits
Bowling and staying active while social distancing
Bowling and staying active while social distancing
Children color words to find hidden sentences
Children color words to find hidden sentences

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Drawing Word Search and solving it creatively
Drawing Word Search and solving it creatively

COVID-19 and its impact on children’s mental well-being 

The COVID-19 pandemic has gripped at-risk children in India the hardest. School shutdown, separation from friends, uncertainty, anxiety and lack of safe spaces are jeopardizing their mental and social-emotional well-being.

As social distancing and maintaining hygiene habits cater to our physical safety, Resilience will give children the power to bounce back from mental stress. This innate power to rise against adversity needs to be developed during formative years to reap its benefits for a lifetime. This can be perfectly built through Play while problem solving, persevering till the end goal, patience while taking turns and doing one’s best even in difficulty. Toybank strongly believes Play can build in every child, the vitality to combat adversity.

 

Toybank's #PlayAtHome initiative

"Play is food for the child's mind. Let it not go hungry"

During the lockdown, children have been away from their happy and safe spaces, learning opportunities and their social support system—peer groups and teachers. From spending time at our Play Centers, they are cooped up in their homes, which are often one-room facilities with heightened risks of infection and distress. This became the reality for 66.6% households in Maharashtra’s slum habitations and the 20 million at-risk children in the state. A respite was immediately the need of the hour. Overnight, children were thrown into the throes of economic hardships, isolation and fear of an uncertain future.

Our team immediately devised an alternative plan to provide Play to our children at their homes, so that they will emerge from this crisis unscathed. It’s crucial that the socio-emotional progress and mental well-being in our children is not reversed due to the lockdown. For routine-like normalcy, meaningful engagement and mental stimulation, we are delivering carefully-curated digital #ToybankPlayAtHomeKits to them through support groups with our partners, on WhatsApp.

Children have taken to these kits with the same excitement they have at our Play Centers.“I played them back-to-back for two-three days. I like games that make me move,” says Parth (name changed) who misses being on his toes and is now enjoying our Tail the Animal and Listening Game the most. While for Niharika (name changed), Word Search puzzles are the most fun. “Every time she recognizes a letter and finds words by herself, she is delighted. She even got creative and found words that weren’t on the list,” beams her parent. Since the children can’t take printouts of our Word Search puzzles, they draw the grid on their notebooks and go word hunting. They are not letting lack of supplies stop them and improvising as they go.

 

Story of Resilience

Ever since the lockdown, most parents are struggling to keep children meaningfully engaged, including Shamita's mother Vanshika (names changed). However, our Playsheets have ensured Shamita stays mentally stimulated. "They allow her to do age-appropriate activities keeping her interest and enthusiasm alive even during this lean period. Her mind is curious at all times," Vanshika tells us.

Through the Playsheets, Shamita bonds with her brother, developing social skills despite being away from their peers. The siblings enjoy healthy competition while playing. “They become extremely creative and try to think beyond the instructions; like, when they need to cut shapes, they think about all the possible ones other than what’s suggested,” Vanshika divulges. Before the lockdown, the duo had different school timings and interests. Even though they didn’t fight, they never did things together before". These PlaySheets help them think for and help each other; they end up doing the activities together most of the time. "They also learn newer academic things in a fun manner. It feels good seeing this happen,” Vanshika concludes.


Outreach in February, March & April 2020

Prior to the lockdown, from February to March we had over 550+ Play Sessions for our 56,000+ children across urban and rural Maharashtra (as of 31st March, 2020).

With the mandate of social distancing, April onwards, we started providing two Playsheets daily to our children via support groups of parents and teachers on WhatsApp. On a daily basis, we are reaching out to 15,468 children through 952 teachers and 3,082 teachers via 180 support groups (as of 30th April 2020).


Support Play to make #EveryChildResilient

The mental relief that play brings for at-risk children’s mental well-being deserves as much attention as other forms of Covid-19 relief efforts. It’s crucial that they stay happy, stimulated and stress-free to navigate stressful circumstances with confidence and resilience.

Toybank’s efforts are invested in ensuring exactly this, through our play methodology. We are determined to reach every child, especially and with urgency during this crisis and to plug its harmful long-term effects. We have had your steadfast support in building this purposeful World of Play for our children. Together, with you we look forward to strengthening our reach.

Hope you are all in the best health and spirits.

Thank you and Happy Toybanking!

Toybank's #PlayAtHome kit's outreach
Toybank's #PlayAtHome kit's outreach
The Play-Way to a healthy routine that sticks
The Play-Way to a healthy routine that sticks
Happiness found in shapes and colors in a lockdown
Happiness found in shapes and colors in a lockdown
Sorting skills and fine motor development in Play
Sorting skills and fine motor development in Play
In play, children express so much more
In play, children express so much more

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A young girl teaching her fellow classmates ludo!
A young girl teaching her fellow classmates ludo!
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a tiny mosquito!” - Shweta Chari, Founder & CEO of Toybank

The statement that Shweta cites in her sensitization speeches when encouraging individuals to drive social change may seem trivial and humorous but it carries great weight. What she implies is that each young individual has opportunities and resources — education, teachers, friends, music, poetry, art, etc. — to make great strides in their life. Think about what you have and what works for you. Don’t waste time mulling over what you don’t have and what doesn’t work for you. Focus on what you got and go make that change well within your lifetime!

Even at Toybank, to achieve Development Through Play, every key stakeholder takes the lead, an initiative and the opportunity in their own unique way to build a better world for others and themselves. This report will give you a peek into play’s role in building leadership skills through updates and stories of children, teachers, Toybank’s full-time team and our extended family of volunteers.

Stories of Change : The little guides!

Life for children in Andheri East’s slum habitation is bleak and mired in poor housing conditions, inadequate civic amenities, insecurity and unstable livelihoods. Our Play Centers are a safe and nurturing haven for them to build positive socio-emotional skills.

I once arrived at the Play Center suffering from mumps. As soon as the children realized this, two boys — Aayush and Rohan (names changed) — assumed my role of a Programme Officer(PO) and took my responsibilities even though I never asked them to. Not only did they ensure that I wasn’t troubled by the class and maintained a decorum but also managed games distribution, calming the children down and seating them properly. Just like a PO’s role, they made groups and helped conduct the Play Session effortlessly.

With this, the kids displayed thoughtfulness, empathy, maturity, discipline and responsibility. Seeing play make responsible little guides of them, the PO was happy to observe the influence all her play sessions, over the past 5 months, have had on her relationship with the children. The fruits of being there for the children consistently and giving them opportunities to develop key skills was strongly reflected in their behavior

- By Jaya Dhokare, Team Toybank


Outreach in November, December 2019 & January 2020

This quarter we worked collaboratively with close to 140 partner facilitators (teachers, caregivers) in implementing our Conscious Play™ methodologies via 1,200+ Play Sessions to reach over 19,000 children (as of 28th January 2020).

Play sessions:

Children taking the lead

According to numerous leadership researchers, individuals who become effective leaders exhibit or develop five core characteristics — innovativeness, empathy, optimism, self-confidence and curiosity (Barthold, Shelby K., "The Emergence of Leadership in Children: The Role of Play, Athletics, and School" (2014). CMC Senior Theses. Paper 859.) While leaders display these traits in their respective professions, children are not too far behind in developing them through their area of specialization — play.

  • Learning leadership and accountability

Children do not always have or aren’t given the opportunity to take responsibilities, which in turn affects their self-confidence. At Toybank’s Play Centers, we use play to inculcate a sense of ownership and responsibility in kids. One such center has a high count of children (more than 50 at times), which makes conducting play sessions a challenge for the PO. To cultivate accountability, the PO appointed a girl and a boy to facilitate the class. They proudly took up the onus of caring for the board games, ensured the session was conducted smoothly and each time there was an argument, sorted it out before the PO could intervene. Soon, the children volunteered to oversee the sessions. They took charge right from handing the games to packing and storing them back neatly. Practising leadership and accountability today will go a long way as adults!

  • Being innovative

Preparing to face uncertainty and change requires ingenuity and flexibility in our thinking and decision-making. Through play, children view problems from different perspectives, troubleshoot and think of inventive ways to solve the problem. The kids at one of our Play Sessions proved this while playing Twister. Nothing could stop them from playing! Not even the missing spinner. They wrote the rules on chits, shuffled them in their palms, picked them out randomly and continued playing.

Although an individual continues to learn vital leadership skills past childhood, the skills learned later are built from the skills learned when young, which only stresses the importance of learning them as a child.

A caregiver’s Conscious role in leading development through play

Developing any kind of life skill, including leadership, is dependent on the environment, social context, timing and other individuals (caregivers, teachers, family, classmates, etc.) that children interact with. This is why Toybank’s Conscious Play™ approach has a crucial role. Over the years, and as suggested by research, our team has observed that the more we interact with children at Play Centers, the deeper we understand their developmental needs. This has led to more quality curation of play sessions to address those needs. In a nutshell, we have started being more mindful of how play experiences have impacted children’s behavioral and mental well-being and used a more conscious approach while integrating play in their lives.

Our partner facilitators across Play Centers are trained to implement this Conscious Play™ approach to optimally use board games and play-based activities to empower children. For example, in Solapur district, a primary school teacher used the game of Lotto or Housie to uniquely teach numbers in English and Marathi. Each time, she announced the number in both the languages, thus reinforcing their learning. Post the session, the children were asked to note down the numbers on their ticket in a book to practice and retain this learning. This game helped children to recognize numbers and listen more attentively for the next number coming up. We saw the children stay patient and focused. We also saw the teacher using the play methodology to enhance their learning of numerical and language skills.

Volunteers leading play

  • In November, we had a massive Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) initiative led by close to 300 corporate employees. They spent an entire day creating meaningful impact in the lives of over 1,000 children at Toybank’s Play Centers. They focused on conducting activities that enhance learning and build skills. These involved playing a mega-sized crossword on a black board, a game of Pictionary, creating butterflies through the origami folding technique, making craft items with paper plates, painting ice-cream sticks, coloring, etc. One of the highlights of the event was an activity conducted to learn the tricks and strategy of solving the Rubik’s Cube. The corporate volunteers printed a step-by-step guide to understand the components of a Cube and how to solve it.

  • In December, our CAS volunteer, Rehan hosted a special learning session on the conservation of mangroves in Mumbai City and the importance of sustainability in our daily lives. He took inspiration from our play sessions and used play through flashcards to instill a sense of scientific inquiry in the children.

  • During our annual fundraiser, Fiesta 2019, our volunteers played an exceptional role in supporting our team. Even though each volunteer came from a different background - a student, a parent, a corporate employee, etc. - each of them like uniquely shaped mosaic pieces came together as one unit ready to support each other, all with the ultimate goal of pulling off the event seamlessly.

Pushing Play Forward

Conscious Play™ has reached so many children - lesser-privileged as well as affluent, teenagers, adults, teachers, principals, etc. We have seen them be happy, learn joyously, think critically and have responsibility for themselves through play.

We hope the stories and the change we’ve highlighted within this report inspire you to continue supporting our work. We couldn’t have built this play-filled and purposeful world for our children without your support. Once again, we are truly grateful and we look forward to strengthening our work along with you.

Thank you and Happy Toybanking!

Outreach in November, December 2019 & January 2020
Outreach in November, December 2019 & January 2020
Children caring for their game boxes!
Children caring for their game boxes!
Children playing twister creatively using chits!
Children playing twister creatively using chits!
Children overjoyed when their teacher joins in!
Children overjoyed when their teacher joins in!
Play-based activities conducted by volunteers!
Play-based activities conducted by volunteers!

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Organization Information

The Opentree Foundation

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra - India
Website:
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Twitter: @Toybank
Project Leader:
Shweta Chari
Mumbai, Maharashtra India
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