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
'I can build a gear box on my own!'shared a child
'I can build a gear box on my own!'shared a child

“Play is not frivolous. It is not a luxury. It is not something to fill in after completing all of the important stuff. Play is the important stuff. Play is a drive, a need, a brain-building must-do. It builds knowledge as much as empathy. We could not be fully human without it.”

— Jeff A Johnson and Denita Dinger

Greetings from Toybank!

The pandemic has and continues to deprive 188 million at-risk Indian children’s safe spaces of learning and play. 2022 began with the third wave of COVID-19, throwing what became the ‘new normal’ off-track once again. Children had barely gotten used to going to offline schools again, when they were required to shut down yet again. While the lockdown was for a shorter time, the impact it had on the lives especially of at-risk children was immense, making it even more imperative for us to ensure we continued to provide them with access to Play to ensure their learning and development continues. 

Toybank, through its Play2Learn program, provides safe play and learning spaces for 60,000+ at-risk across 12 districts in Maharashtra, 4 states and 1 Union Territory in India to be developmentally on track in their mental and behavioral well-being. The program guides and supports 13,695 caregivers through 634 support groups (as of 31st March 2022).  Even in the midst of the pandemic, our ethos is firm, ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men (and women’)'. The progress in socio-emotional development and mental well-being of our children has continued to be the core focus. 

Despite the continued uncertainties and challenges faced, with your support, Toybank continues to ensure that at-risk children continue to engage with learning through play to holistically develop to become well-rounded, responsible adults in the future. We are happy to share updates from our work over the last few months:

We Played!

  • We disseminated 1078 Play2Learn activities where children from various age groups and learning levels learned holistically with our curriculum-aligned activities. These activity sheets aided in the development of integral life skills like critical thinking, socio-emotional well-being, and cognitive skills, while also aligning with their academic curriculum.
  • 396 Physical Play2Learn Sessions were conducted by our program officers and our  partner-teachers while following social distancing rules. Children played board games in groups of two or three under teachers’ supervision to ensure their safety.
  • 15 Digital Play2Learn Sessions were conducted by our Program Officers. These are curated with a sequential session plan by the team to encourage peer learning, boost children’s learning with the Play2Learn Kit and break the ice among classmates through group activities. These sessions gave the children the opportunity to become more curious and build on life skills.
  • 28 student volunteers facilitated buddy sessions with 15 Toybank children as part of The Buddy program. These sessions included getting to know and building a bond with the child, discussions around aspirations and about emotions, strengths, routine and habit building. The Buddies give the children a platform to have social interactions which have been drastically hit due to the pandemic.
  • Distributed 1800+ games across 55 Play2Learn centres as schools and Play centres reopened post the third wave across Maharashtra, ensuring children were able to learn through Play!
  • In January, over a course of 6 days, close to 300 teachers from 55 schools across Beed and Osmanabad districts attended the ‘Power of Play Teacher Trainings’. The training sessions support in aligning play-based-learning with the academic curriculum, while also supporting the teachers to effectively use the curated activity sheets and play material at the centres. Here’s what the teachers said about their experience:

“The mental and physical development of our children through these games will be very good and our school will benefit from these games. The whole world knows the work that Albert Einstein did, but very few people know what he had to go through. Today the work that Toybank is doing in association with our school and teachers is very good.” shared Mr Kulkarni, Education Officer, Beed District 

“I find joy in teaching children and helping them learn new things everyday. Seeing a smile on a young child's face motivates me. They are the new generation and therefore I like this work.”- Shared Mr Gopichand Pawar, Teacher, Osmanabad District during the Teacher’s workshop.

We’re rebuilding childhoods!

Story of Resilience: Inclusivity through Play: How teachers brought the Play2Learn center home

Ishaan (name changed) lives 3 kms away from his school, in the middle of a field, and is unable to get to school on his own, due to his physical disability. Prior to the lockdown his parents or teachers would still manage to routinely visit him at home so that he didn’t miss out on learning. Though the pandemic disrupted this and he missed out on an entire year of schooling. The isolation from his teachers and limited access to education or play made him quite unhappy and disinterested in learning.

When schools reopened, two of Ishaan’s teachers—Dinesh Kothade and Ganesh Thaur took the initiative to start teaching him again but were confused about how to rebuild the gaps in knowledge and recalled Toybank’s Play2Learn Center games. They began using these games to teach him through play. 

With the help of a special educator and the teacher’s constant play-based teaching, Ishaan once again began learning and playing. He was overjoyed to be able to count, read alphabets and kickstart his learning journey once again with rings, blocks, colors, and shape-based games from the Play2Learn Center. The play sessions tapped into his intrinsic need to learn and develop new skills that most children his age explore during their school days. Ishaan finds great joy and an immense sense of accomplishment when he completes a task or learns a new concept. Ishaan eagerly looks forward to his teachers sharing  new Toybank games so that he can continue his learning journey. 

(As shared by his teachers during feedback calls)

 Investing in Play to make mental well-being and learning accessible is the need of the hour. We must come together as a society to rebuild children’s childhoods and their future outcomes. Your support will ensure at-risk children continue to Play, learn and become resilient!

Thank you and Happy Toybanking!

 

Outreach as on 31st March 2022
Outreach as on 31st March 2022
Children playing chess during a play session
Children playing chess during a play session
Playsheets that build children's language skills
Playsheets that build children's language skills
Teachers after Power of Play workshop
Teachers after Power of Play workshop
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Children engaged in Play in the pandemic
Children engaged in Play in the pandemic

Greetings from Team Toybank!

The new year brings us immense hope and energy. We take this opportunity to express our gratitude for the faith and backing our supporters have had in our work. With 2022 here and our rejuvenated spirit to continue our efforts towards making play a reality in the lives of our children, we wish you a safe and resilient 2022!

Toybank has been delivering its hybrid Play2Learn program to 60,000+ children across 12 districts in Maharashtra, 4 states and 1 Union Territory in India. The program guides and supports 13,695 caregivers through 581 support groups. (as of 31st December 2021).

We are humbled, yet take immense pride in our team who have ensured that the progress we have made for our children won’t reverse. Throughout 2021, we’ve seen noteworthy resilience in the ways our children tackled hardships and roadblocks to learn and play. 2021 was a testament to the Power of Play in our children’s lives.

As we ring in the new year, here’s a quick update of our work over the last few months:

We Played.

  • We disseminated 1009 digital Play2Learn activities where children from various age groups and learning levels learned holistically. They helped children work on their anxieties cause by distressing news and online learning during the pandemic.
     
  • Physical Play2Learn Sessions were conducted by partner-teachers while following social distancing rules. Children played board games in groups of two or three under teachers’ supervision to ensure their safety.

  • 85 Digital Play2Learn Sessions were conducted via Zoom by our Program Officers. These sessions encouraged peer learning, boosted children’s curiosity and built life skills and socio-emotional skills among classmates through group activities.

  • 28 student volunteers facilitated 22 buddy sessions as part of The Buddy program. These sessions included building a bond with the child, discussions around aspirations, emotions, strengths, routine and habit building. The sessions provide for social interactions which have been drastically hit due to the pandemic.

  • Across 4 states and 1 Union Territory in India, the digital Toybank Play2Learn Kit has made Play accessible to children. We ensured continuity of learning for children in these disadvantaged neighborhoods who did not have the luxury of online schooling.

We invested.

We are invested in children’s Right to Play. We have been continually tracking on-ground issues that our children have been facing through fortnightly calls with partners, virtual focus group discussions, and in-person meetings and rural visits with education and block officers, headmasters and principals to ensure Play was a part of their virtual learning and back-to-school plans.

  • We visited our rural districts of Beed, Latur & Osmanabad in October to give key partner-stakeholders a refresher on our program, plan for teacher training and physical Play2Learn sessions as schools were in the process of reopening. These visits enabled us to strengthen our partnerships, thus ensuring the program’s smooth delivery

    “Everything related to education collapsed during the pandemic. But Toybank's continued efforts ensured children had some form of knowledge,” shared Dr. Vinayak, Toybank’s program incharge of our partner in Beed.

  • In December, over a course of 6 days, 500+ teachers were trained in Latur district of Maharashtra. The training was interactive and designed to motivate the teachers to ask questions on Play, and take them through our Play2Learn program (Physical and Digital). The teachers first hand played with the games and understood their objectives and skills they cater to. The training was a platform for the Toybank team to not only re-connect with the teachers, but to also hear first hand some of the challenges they faced in the pandemic. 

    “I enjoyed playing Reversi. It's a very interesting game. 6 of us played chinese checkers and we learnt unity and teamwork,” Teacher from Ausa block, Latur, Maharashtra.

    “The concepts that you have shared today are very good. This is one of the best trainings that I have attended in a while,” shares Navnath Bharat Mende, Teacher from Renapur block, Latur, Maharashtra
  • Parents supported their children's academics as well as mental wellbeing by taking time out to engage with our Play2Learn activities.

    Being at home most of the time during COVID-19, the children needed both, meaningful engagement and academic support, which parents were enabled to provide with the Play2Learn Kit’s easy-to-understand instructions,” shares Mrs. Bhosale, Teacher from Toybank Play2Learn Center in Nanded.

    Vasantrao Patil, a parent whose child is part of our Play2Learn Center in Latur district, said to our PO, “I’ve never met anyone from Toybank, but these playsheets are really good for our children. My child completed the Positive Self-Talk Flower playsheet and I displayed it at home so that my child always remembers his positive qualities.”
  • 34 Virtual Focus Group Discussions with 330 teachers and decision-makers gauged the effect of lockdown on our children. They shared feedback and suggestions on our Digital Toybank Play2Learn Program helping us to strengthen and support our partners effectively.

    Few snippets from the FGDs by our partners

    Deepak Kubde, Teacher from Subhedar Ramji Ambedkar Vidyalaya Play2Learn Center in Mumbai said, “As the lockdown started and Toybank asked to be added to school groups, I was delighted as online classes were dull and managing things was new to us. Activities are shared on a daily basis without any hurdles. Kids enjoyed the activities and we also learnt new things every day. Hope we’ll have Toybank Play2Learn Program from day one of the school reopening.”

    Leena Kamble, teacher from ZPPS Lokhandisawargaon, Play2Learn Center in Beed district shared what she benefited from the program, “It has helped me bond with them, overcome language difficulties, teach them despite their restlessness, inattentiveness or disinterest in studies. Children may not do something from textbooks but if I ask them to do the same thing through an activity, they readily do it.”

We’re rebuilding childhoods.

Story of Resilience: Bridging learning gaps with the game Abacus

“Sameer was in Class 2 and at the end of the academic year when schools closed down due to COVID-19. He could recognise single to two-digit numbers easily. By the time he was in Class 3 in June 2020, his school had just begun remote learning. This not only negatively impacted what he had learnt but we also failed to track how much our students were grasping. 

Sameer was in Class 4 by June 2021, with schools yet to reopen. With the introduction of three-digit and bigger numbers, he was off his learning track once again. When children could attend school physically, I noticed that Sameer struggled with number recognition. Toybank had restocked Abacus, so I decided to creatively bring him up to speed with digits. I visually associated the colorful beads with units, tens and hundreds, which made counting easy and quick for Sameer. This excited him to keep coming and learning more. With this realistic learning experience, he eventually took his notebook along and started writing down all the numbers he learned.”

- Story of Resilience shared by Shubhangi Kulkarni, teacher from ZPPS Bansorala, Play2Learn Center in Beed district of Maharashtra.       

Invest to rebuild childhoods through Play

Investing in Play to make mental well-being and learning accessible is the need of the hour. We must come together as a society to rebuild children’s childhoods and their future outcomes. Your support will ensure 60,000+ children continue to Play, learn and become resilient!

Thank you and Happy Toybanking!

Children attend a virtual Play2Learn Session
Children attend a virtual Play2Learn Session
Visit to our rural Play2Learn Centers
Visit to our rural Play2Learn Centers
Teachers engaged in play during the training
Teachers engaged in play during the training
Outreach as of 31st December 2021
Outreach as of 31st December 2021
Teachers in conversation with Toybank at the FGD
Teachers in conversation with Toybank at the FGD
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Learning shapes and colors with board games
Learning shapes and colors with board games

Children’s spirits are set free in play spaces and imaginations come alive through Play. However, inequities limit these for at-risk children along with access to quality play experiences, and thus mental and emotional well-being. 

To address that, we need to act now, act big and resolutely, as four-time award-winning project Toybank—Development through Play has been since its inception in 2004. So, when Bhausaheb Wavikar, Secretary of SAPREM’s Bring A Smile MR School for children with intellectual disabilities shares after our games distribution, “Our children with special needs found online learning uninspiring and boring but are now playing without stress,”. Not only were they relieved of their worries but we took another step in providing access to quality Play even for children with different abilities. As Wavikar added, “Our children are so happy to get the games and toys. The joy on their faces is beyond words.”

Though our greatest reward is impacting 57,925 children across 7 states and 1 Union Territoryin India every day during COVID-19 (as of 31st August 2021), we are honored and inspired to be one of the finalists of one of the prestigious global forums 2021 Global Good Awards—COVID Crisis Champions. We are ever grateful for the solid support of Toybankers like you who support us in building a better, stronger and kinder generation.

 

Starting at the bottom, we’re now playing digital

‘Interrupted learning’ is among the top adversities of COVID-19 on children (UNESCO). Educationists and experts urged to resend children to physical classrooms in December 2020, barely six months into the lockdown. But now, more than 300 million students in India have been learning virtually for more than a year-and-a-half—the seventh-longest school closure in the world. It has rightly been said that if children do not go back to school soon, we will have a lost generation of kids. 

Toybank has continually recognized these losses even before the outbreak of the pandemic. From providing games to a couple of thousands of street kids to setting up Play2Learn Centers impacting 57K+ kids, we have consistently responded to our children’s evolving needs, even during COVID-19 as our program went digital. 

A Harvard report, ‘Persevering through the Pandemic,’ states that 58 percent of parents have witnessed COVID-19 harm their children’s academic development. Just over half of the parents saw a negative impact on their child’s social-emotional development, which can affect the ability to learn, build relationships and manage emotions. It is, therefore, crucial for children to be connected to their learning during the pandemic.

 

Being mindful of the digital fatigue, too

Throughout the pandemic, we have stayed connected with our partners, teachers, children and their parents through telephonic surveys, virtual focus group discussions, and whenever restrictions were lifted we had in-person meetings with block officers, headmasters and principals to ensure Play is part of their back-to-school plans. We are continually tracking the problems children are facing—school dropout, child labor, social distress due to the virus, digital fatigue, learning loss, etc—and curate every batch of our Play2Learn Kit to address these and bridge gaps. 

To further balance the digital fatigue, we had a blend of various play activities, sessions and offline activities such as:

  • Around 150 Physical Play2Learn Sessions in areas with minimal to zero COVID cases
  • Distribution of 1,492 games and toys to approx. 800 children in remote areas of Mulshi and Matheran villages in Maharashtra, where the tribal kids have no access to learning materials or schools.
  • Replenishing over 3000 games at our Play2Learn Centers in Ahmednagar, Beed, Latur & Mumbai districts of Maharashtra
  • 43 Virtual Play2Learn Sessions conducted by Program Officers and 58 Virtual Play2Learn Sessions conducted by corporate volunteers
  • 70 Buddy sessions as part of the Buddy Program focused on reducing feelings of isolation, building self-confidence, team work, building healthy routines and habits, and avenues for fun and recreation through ice-breakers, action songs and arts and crafts activities.

“The Toybank Play2Learn Kit provides quality activities that meet various learning levels of children and skills that will make them resilient to get ahead in life,” said Miss Anju, Teacher, partner-school Rani Sati English School, Mumbai.

“Alphabet Jumping supported children’s learning of the alphabet in an engaging and entertaining way. They got to move, hop and read out aloud one letter after another, thus increasing their learning retention. At the end of the hopping, they reached their favorite belonging as a reward. Caregivers also learned how to encourage their children and make their learning journey fun”, shares Toybank Program Officer, Rashmin Shaikh.

 

Story of Resilience:

Our partner Prerana (an anti-human trafficking nonprofit) shares an inspiring Story Of Resilience on how Toybank’s Play2Learn activities are supporting their children during the pandemic.To read it click here.                             

 

Benefits of Toybank Play2Learn Program

  • Meaningful engagement at home
  • 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

 

Our work across India

The digital and translations feature of Toybank Play2Learn Kit has made it adaptable in different rural and urban communities of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Ladakh and Madhya Pradesh. We have and continue to ensure that language is the last barrier preventing children from playing.

We have witnessed the power of play adopted within different contexts and backgrounds and our activities include resources that are easily obtainable locally. For instance, Little Vikas, from the tribal region of Madhya Pradesh, made a Pinwheel from leaves and Santosh from rural Maharashtra completed the Manmade Flower game by including natural and man-made things from his surroundings, including soil and trees. We supported our partner facilitators, teachers and caregivers to fit the Play2Learn sheets into their local lexicon.

 

Supporting Toybank in making quality play more accessible

As we continue to work on-ground, we look forward to Right To Play becoming an undeniable reality soon. Now, with 17 years of on-ground experience, hundreds of impact stories, a big Toybank family of supporters, teachers, government officials, volunteers and children look forward to more avenues that will give children their right—to happy and healthy childhoods through Play.

Thank you and Happy Toybanking!

Outreach as of 31st August 2021
Outreach as of 31st August 2021
Volunteers guide children to express emotions
Volunteers guide children to express emotions
Virtual Play2Learn Sessions conducted by Toybank
Virtual Play2Learn Sessions conducted by Toybank
Tribal children access quality games to play with
Tribal children access quality games to play with
Teachers teach alphabets through new board games
Teachers teach alphabets through new board games
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Learning the food chain through crossword puzzles
Learning the food chain through crossword puzzles

Renowned ECE consultant, Rae Pica, highlights the need for play, “I shouldn’t have to defend play for children anymore than I should have to defend eating, sleeping, and breathing.” COVID or no COVID, Toybank’s digital Play2Learn Program continues to defend, encourage play and impact at-risk children.

Even though safe play spaces are every child’s right and necessity, at-risk Indian children are devoid of these as the pandemic and lockdown prolong. Thus, it’s crucial that we enrich their current learning environments—homes and immediate surroundings. Toybank’s Play2Learn Program has kept 51,885 children learning in safe spaces on a daily basis. We guide and support 2,150 teachers and 7,523 parents through 431 support groups. (As of 31st May 2021)


Here’s all that we did as part of the program in the past three months.

Strengthening foundational learning


With virtual learning in its second year, children struggle to brush up on their basics as they did in traditional classrooms. As the curriculum has reduced, students are practically learning on their own with inadequate support from teachers. Thus, Toybank’s Play2Learn Sheets are curated to promote foundational learning, support caregivers to strengthen children's basics in complex subjects, and mitigate learning gaps. For instance, interactive games such as Spelling Jigsaw, Rhyming Hunt, and Homophones built kids’ vocabulary and pronunciation.

Socio-emotional development and habit building


Our partner teacher Ms. Hemali says, “Playsheets not only help students with their academics but also build life skills like patience and self-awareness about how their words and actions can impact people around them.”

Children mapped their daily routines through the play activities like ‘What I do Before and After’ so that they could identify and inculcate healthy habits like brushing their teeth twice a day and helping caregivers in household chores. ‘Coloring Habits’ helped children unlearn bad routines that being cooped up at home caused.

While with activity Feathers of Gratitude, children expressed their gratitude for frontline workers—medical professionals, government officials, police officers, and so on; they learned ways to deal with difficult situations with 'Think Before You Speak'.

Story of Resilience: Finding faith in learning once again

“Farman excelled in the physical classroom, but the lockdown disrupted his routine and he struggled to keep up with the overwhelming virtual classes. Yet, the Grade 3 student’s parents expected him to be the first to answer questions, and complete all his homework.

As Farman missed playing and interacting with his friends, he found joy in learning again and happily engaged with Toybank Play2Learn Sheets. New play activities and encouragement from his teachers enable him to learn, strengthen his foundation in subjects he lagged in, and play independently.”

—Mr. Sanket, Teacher, Toybank Play2Learn Center, Rani Sati English Medium School, Mumbai, India

Benefits of Toybank Play2Learn Program

  • Meaningful engagement at home
  • 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

Toybank’s Play2Smile Program

When children play, they smile even in difficult situations such as undergoing a medical treatment or accompanying someone to the hospital—especially during tough COVID times. Engaging in Play also enhances kids' bond with their caregivers and the hospital staff. As a part of our Play2Smile Program, in March and April 2021, before lockdown 2021, our team distributed  1,095 games to 6 hospitals in Mumbai and Pune. Apart from expressing themselves, kids stayed engaged independently and felt secure. They also derived joy from the pop of colorful games and toys. “It brings their imagination alive. Being stuck to the bed or inside the ward causes boredom, irritability and restlessness, which can be detrimental to their mental well-being,” Toybank Program Officer (PO) Neha states.

Virtual volunteering during Covid-19

Close to 500 volunteers (corporate employees, students and individuals) continue to support us in virtual Play2Learn Sessions, Buddy Program sessions, video editing, research work, Play2Learn activity designing, and translations on a weekly basis. 

Parents of our children share with us how Toybank's Buddy sessions and the playsheets have been a boon for them during the lockdown. Various interesting activities keep the children self-motivated. Being meaningfully engaged reduces restlessness in children and anxiety in their caregivers.

Distributing games before the second COVID wave 

Right before the second lockdown in Mumbai, we also distributed 1,160 creative games at 9 partner-schools in the Malwani slums of Mumbai to provide our kids access to Quality play materials. The inventory team meticulously sanitized and packed games and distributed them while maintaining social distancing.

Teacher Ms Poonam from Rani Sati Urdu Municipal School shares, “For an entire year, we couldn't meet our children but through this distribution, we were so excited to see some of them enjoy the games. We thank Toybank for this gesture during these hard times.”

Our work across India

Toybank’s partners are the backbone who take Play to some of the remotest pockets of the country—especially during the pandemic. With their support, we disseminated our Play2Learn activities to 5 other states beyond our base Maharashtra, namely—Manipur, Union Territory Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

“In the past few months, Shabdha (name changed) has enjoyed the Play2Learn activities. She gathered a group of friends who do not have access to phones and requested our staff to arrange a space for them to play together. For these children, Toybank’s activities have been something to look forward to every week.”  —Testimonial by Oasis India, Bangalore, Karnataka

Supporting Toybank for enriched learning and equitable childhoods

As we have seen through the two waves of COVID-19, the need for resilience, mental well-being and quality learning during early years of childhood is crucial for children to resolutely face inequalities and crises. 

We are paving the way for at-risk children to negotiate their way around learning losses, digital divide and gaps in social-emotional development. As Toybank bolsters its efforts to rebuild childhoods with equity, your support will go a long way in backing us up.

Thank you and Happy Toybanking!

 

 

Toybank's Outreach as of 31st May 2021
Toybank's Outreach as of 31st May 2021
Teacher guides children about wet and dry waste
Teacher guides children about wet and dry waste
Making play accessible before the second lockdown
Making play accessible before the second lockdown
Children practice word making with Scrabble
Children practice word making with Scrabble
Play reaching remotest parts of India
Play reaching remotest parts of India
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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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Organization Information

The Opentree Foundation

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Toybank
Project Leader:
Shweta Chari
Mumbai, Maharashtra India
$78,855 raised of $100,000 goal
 
515 donations
$21,145 to go
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