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
Grouping up to Play
Grouping up to Play

Dear Toybank Project Supporters,

Hello from Toybank! We have had an amazing kick-off to the financial year 2017-18, and are eager to see through the milestones we’ve set for ourselves over the following months! We feel very happy to witness the dramatic changes in the lives of the children we have been steadily impacting.

Toybank is focusing on expanding & also deepening its work in the year ahead, and has set a goal of extending our reach to 50,000 children by the year-end. We are putting in committed time this quarter into assessing the impact of our work and therefore curate stronger play programs that fulfil developmental needs in our children.

Over the months of April, May and June, Toybank has conducted 153 play sessions at our centres across Mumbai, reaching out to 3550 ­children in the process. In this time, we have also replaced games and toys at 74 of our Urban and Rural centres, to restock them with new and innovative games and toys. We also catered to our centres in Delhi to maintain the novelty and stimulation of the games contained in our game libraries. The play sessions over this period covered activities that focused on ‘Health & Hygiene’ and ‘Good Habits & Bad Habits’. From one of our centres at Ashadeep, Andheri, children resisted taking to cleaning their community centre because it seemed strenuous. However, the simplicity of this exercise came through at the play session and the discussion that ensued led to a handful of them grouping together and taking up this initiative, which was very motivating to witness.

We also conducted 8 Teachers’ training sessions this quarter thus impacting a total of 134 teachers. These sessions help empower teachers at our partner schools with tools on how to integrate play into their schedules effectively, use of relevant toys and games based on age, theme and category, as well as a Q&A session.
From our visit to our partner Sanskriti Samvardhan Mandal in Nanded, the teachers gave us invaluable feedback during the training session about their needs, and to use play to teach children. ‘Play to Learn’ being our fundamental focus for all our children.

For the first time, we also involved parents of our children in a Play Session at our centre in YUVA, Mumbai. They were amazed by how their children taught them complex and interesting games with such enthusiasm and ease along with a fun tool to spend time and build stronger bonds with their kids through play.

Story from the field:

Gopal (name changed) is a student at one of Toybank’s rural game libraries in the Beed district of Maharashtra. His teachers observed that he was quickly distracted from classroom activities, and found math above all other subjects especially challenging. His teachers expressed that while he was a bright boy, he was often inattentive and exhibited disobedient behavior towards them. Gopal showed little motivation to attend classes, which came across as excuses to his parents for skipping school.

Once Toybank introduced a game library at Gopal’s school, there was a noticeable change in the attitude of Gopal and other students at his school. The games made part of the school’s library we curated to included many strategy and numerical games, including ‘Business’ and ‘Rapid Calculations’. During the first few weeks, Gopal was curious and interested, but struggled with making calculations himself. Initially, his teachers would sit with Gopal throughout the play sessions, assisting him with the game till he got comfortable solving them on his own.

Today, 5 months after play sessions were introduced at the school, Gopal among other students not only has an eager interest to play them week-on-week, but has shown visible progress in his math skills and calculation speed. His teachers have conveyed that regular play at the school has helped them maintain concentration levels and interest to learn new information.

We are confident that through our continued intervention, Gopal and the children at our centre in Beed will grow to enjoy the process of learning through games and play sessions, and stay receptive to the education they receive at school and beyond.

At Toybank, we work with children like Gopal to ensure they develop their skills and knowledge, but also a bounty of joy and happy memories through play and games. We thank you once again for your wonderful contributions that enable us to make this a reality. This ensures that we go one step closer towards ensuring every child in India is given the opportunity to play, and in the process, help in their growth and development!

Warm regards,

Shweta Chari,

Founder and CEO, Toybank

Building train tracks!
Building train tracks!
Happy Teachers, Happy Kids!
Happy Teachers, Happy Kids!
All set for a Frog Race!
All set for a Frog Race!
Play Session at Snehalaya coming Alive!
Play Session at Snehalaya coming Alive!

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Intrigued with the Rubik's Cube!
Intrigued with the Rubik's Cube!

Dear Toybank Project Supporters,

Greetings from Toybank! We have wrapped up the financial year 2016-17 and are happy to say that it has been a landmark one for us. We’ve also begun this new financial year on a positive note. Thank you so much for all the support rendered through the year in helping us impact more children.

Toybank is on a path of expanding and reaching out to many more deserving children this year. We are currently focused on delving into the impact of play on each child and really analysing the benefits of healthy play and it’s role in addressing development needs in children.

Specifically, for the months of February, March and April, Toybank has conducted 195 play sessions at our centres across Mumbai, reaching out to 5,198 children. In these three months, we have also replaced toys at 28 of our urban and rural centres to restock them with new and innovative games to suit each child’s need.

A large part of our work involves creating and spreading awareness among individuals and ensuring that they are sensitized. A host of events that took place in these past three months have helped us reach out to sensitize more people and make them aware of our cause. The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai and QTube Café play sessions have helped us spread awareness and also build relationships with new volunteers who are very supportive of our cause. We’ve also conducted sensitization sessions with corporates and schools in Mumbai to create awareness about the necessity of play for all children.

In the month of February, Toybank launched a new project called ‘Play2Smile’. In collaboration with hospitals and palliative care centres, Toybank has set up game libraries in the premises to provide access to hygienic toys and healthy play. Through this project, we wish to help in creating a happy environment where children can immerse in play and enjoy the variety of games and toys stocked at the centre. As of date, we have set-up 2 game libraries in collaboration with one hospital and one palliative care centre. Through play therapy, we aim to help the children towards better trauma resolution, social integration, growth and development and emotional modulation.

 

Story from the Field:

Arav (name changed) is a part of our Toybank- Mumbai Smiles game library. At age 7, he is the oldest child at the day care centre.

After birth, Arav was prone to epilepsy attacks, diagnosed with jaundice and was severely weak. His movement and speech started later than most other kids his age and mostly used sign language to communicate to his parents. Currently, at age seven, Arav is able to understand everything in his surrounding and also react through expressions, for example, respond to someone with a smile.

At the Mumbai Smiles day care centre, Arav plays with all children. However, on close observation by Laxman, our Toybank field officer, he is hesitant at times and keeps to himself. He also showed signs of low self-confidence. Laxman spoke to the centre head and parents of Arav to understand his usual behavior and history. On understanding the situation, Laxman began conducting one-on-one sessions with Arav every time he visited the centre. With the aid of specialized games to play with and voice modulations to instruct, Laxman began creating his own method of play therapy with Arav. He used games like ball throw and catch, wooden blocks and puzzles and also made sure he was included in the group games.

Along with other children, Laxman conducted a lot of action songs and rhymes at the center, ensuring that Arav was able to follow and take part with the other children. To make the space more inclusive, Laxman pushed Arav to be a part of the group and also sensitized his fellow members to play with him. Arav started showing signs of ‘finding the gaps‘. For example, when Laxman gave out instructions to the entire team, and if any of them would not follow it, Arav would point it out to Laxman. Apart from this, Laxman has also been guiding the family on how to keep encouraging play for Arav at the home level by introducing the concept of playing with colors, sand, etc.

We are happy to say that Arav is a much more curious child now and is more involved with everyone in the team. A long way to go for Laxman but the journey has begun on a very positive note.

At Toybank, we work with many children like Arav. The efforts from each person on the team is put in to ensure that the best is provided for our children.

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 all children in India are given this opportunity to play, and in the process, help in their growth and development.

 

Warm regards,

Shweta Chari,

Founder and CEO, Toybank

Serious at play
Serious at play
Building a car together
Building a car together
Learning and playing, simultaneously
Learning and playing, simultaneously
Team building activity through a fun game
Team building activity through a fun game
Toybank games at the Romila Palliative Care Centre
Toybank games at the Romila Palliative Care Centre

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Happy kids make happy volunteers
Happy kids make happy volunteers

Dear Toybank Project Supporters,

A Happy New Year to you all! It’s always a pleasure to share our reports on Global Giving and know that we have the backing of many people who inspire us to keep doing what we do. The year for us started off on a good note and we hope to sustain this year through.

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. Specifically, for the months of November, December and January, Toybank has conducted 235 play sessions at our centres across Mumbai, reaching out to 6648 children. In these three months, we have also replaced toys at 39 of our urban and rural centres to restock them with new and innovative games to suit each child’s need.

On November 19th, 2016, we held a large toy distribution event for 650 underprivileged children at one of our Toybank centres in Dharavi, Mumbai. 36 enthusiastic volunteers and 11 Toybank team members gathered at the centre for a briefing session. Following that, the kids started trickling in, each with an energy that got everyone else excited! The event began with a few activities for the children, conducted by the volunteers. During the actual toy distribution session, each kid was given toys and games to keep for themselves. Zaosh Elavia, a volunteer at the event shares his experience  saying, “It was such a thrill to be in a classroom with these energetic, enthusiastic young kids who were absolutely having a ball giggling and screaming and laughing their way through all the activities that I immediately realized what a wonderful way it was to spend a Saturday morning! The happiness on their faces when they realised they were getting a gift to keep was priceless”. Through many such toy distribution events like this, Toybank aims to simply provide the kids a sense of ownership, and to possess a toy or game they can call their own.

The month of January began on a positive note with Toybank opening 12 new rural centres and replacing toys at 12 schools in Beed District, Maharashtra. Over the two-day visit, six team members reached out to 24 schools with almost 3,500 children. The association with these schools are all thanks to our local Beed partner- Manavlok. Day one was focused on teacher training, where we trained 45 teachers from various schools where our game libraries are present. The sessions were interactive, inspiring and involved a lot of cross learning. One the second day, we visited 12 schools for new set-ups. Each child at these centres were extremely curious on seeing the toys come in, and the looks on their faces were those of excitement and inquisitiveness. We’ve set up these new libraries in the hope that many more kids in rural India get the access and chance to enjoy these board games and toys, and create memories of a happy childhood.

 

Story from the Field:

Krish (name changed) is a 12-year old who is a regular at Cosmos School in Borivali. Good at his academics and actively participative in his school activities, Krish was noticed to demonstrate hyper active behaviour at times.

At a play session in October 2016, our Toybank field officer observed that Krish was distracting the entire session. On further inquiry from the teachers, he was one of the naughtier students and showed aggressive behaviour, an inability to concentrate and constantly moved around.

At one of the sessions in October, our field officer initiated discussion with Keshav. In conversation, he mentioned that he was constantly yelled at and this would make him upset. Post this, our field officer got started with the play session activities. At this session and the other sessions to follow, she introduced ice-breaking activities and observed Keshav’s proactive participation. On introducing him to various board games like Memory, Mastermind and 70 piece puzzles, she found Keshav to be very receptive towards them. In the puzzle related games, he focused on how the pieces could be joined to eventually create the bigger picture. On completion of the puzzle, Keshav was able to interestingly build a story and describe the image he had made.

Over time, Keshav’s concentration levels have increased. It has been observed that he enjoys games that tend to create stories, like puzzles. He also does not move around disturbing other children during the play session. This is primarily because he understands the board games and finds them interesting to play with. Because of this change in his behaviour, he is being accepted better by his friends and his teachers.

 

We at Toybank keep doing what we do to help impact kids like this. It is through this simple act of play that the smallest of change can begin to take place.

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 all children in India are given this opportunity to play, and in the process, help in their growth and development.

 

Warm regards,

Shweta Chari,

Founder and CEO, Toybank

Activities at the toy distribution event
Activities at the toy distribution event
He now has a toy of his own!
He now has a toy of his own!
Post toy distribution excitement!
Post toy distribution excitement!
Teachers learn to play games at new rural centres
Teachers learn to play games at new rural centres
Children patiently waiting to play
Children patiently waiting to play
Play in progress...
Play in progress...
Toybank at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon
Toybank at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon
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Our new play centre at a creche in Tilonia.
Our new play centre at a creche in Tilonia.

Dear Toybank Project Supporters,

It gives me immense pride to share with you this report and thank you for all the support shown to get us this far. On August 15th 2016, Toybank turned 12! Over these years we have grown and impacted the lives of over 34,000 children through 251 game libraries and play centres.

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. Specifically, for the months of August, September and October, Toybank has conducted 192 play sessions at our centres across Mumbai, reaching out to 6441 children. Our field officers have also been focusing on conducting theme-based play sessions where a certain topic such as life skills, is discussed with the children to make the sessions interative. In these three months, we've also replaced toys at 19 of our centres and restocked them with new and innovative games to suit each child’s need.

In the month of August, we spread out to a new state in India, Rajastan, where our play centre has been set-up at a village crèche in Tilonia. The toys had been mobilized through toy collection drives in Delhi. Our Delhi chapter volunteers have been solely responsible for this entire project, and for this we are ever grateful! Through our play sessions, we encourage our children to work together, use their creativity and imagination. We’re also ensuring that these kids enjoy and get to experience such an integral part of their childhood.

Toybank also celebrated the Joy of Giving week from the 2nd to the 8th of October. We had various corporates, schools and individuals who engaged with us to run toy collection drives and through this, mobilize toys for our game libraries. We wrapped up the Joy of Giving week with Toybanks annual fundraiser event- the Toybank Fiesta 2016.  The success of the two-day festival was due to the efforts and commitment of Toybank supports- volunteers, trustees, sponsors and individuals- all who firmly stand by Toybank’s cause. The event schedule featured live music, meaningful discussions and a brief into the world of Toybank and what we believe in. Through our various engagement activities, we created awareness and let people know why we exist, garnering more support and fundraising for our cause along the way.

Story from the Field:

Seven-year-old Priya (name changed) is an autistic child at our play centre in Bandra, Mumbai. A very quiet child, Priya also displayed poor motor skill performance, repetitive behaviour and had low levels of interaction among her peers. As initially noticed by Toybank field officers and the centre-in-charge, she was unable to build any bonds as she failed to familiarize faces and voices. Priya also found difficulty in responding to complex and non-verbal methods of communication.

The Toybank play sessions at Priya’s school are conducted 6 days a week. It is during these sessions that our field officers personally focus on Priya and provide her the right toys and games. She is encouraged to play with special puzzles that aid in enhancing her motor skills. The bright blocks, sorters and screws allow Priya to build awareness of her own self-capacities. Priya was also introduced to thumb painting by our field officers. After initially being hesitant, she started enjoying to play during the Toybank sessions.

On close observation, Priya has shown positive development signs and increased interaction with other children as well as her teachers. She is able to concentrate and pick up the toys. Her mother has also informed us of Priya’s positive basic development and is showing signs of ‘expressing’ her happiness on being able to achieve a task during play.

Through more guidance and hand holding support, we at Toybank firmly believe that Priya will benefit through our continued play sessions.

Each play session is carefully designed to adapt to the need of each child, in this case for children like Priya. Toybank strives to provide the best to these children through our interventions.

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 all children in India are given this opportunity to play, and in the process, help in their growth and development.

 

Warm regards,

Shweta Chari,

Founder and CEO, Toybank

 

 

Happy girls creating happy memories
Happy girls creating happy memories
Children at play
Children at play
A puzzle a day keeps the mind stimulated
A puzzle a day keeps the mind stimulated
Team work while playing
Team work while playing
Kids during a Toybank toy distribution session
Kids during a Toybank toy distribution session

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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!

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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
$79,263 raised of $100,000 goal
 
517 donations
$20,737 to go
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