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
Their priced possessions!
Their priced possessions!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below are a few testimonials from various stakeholders of Toybank:

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

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

Stories from the Field:

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

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

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'Hello'!
'Hello'!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Play Session
Play Session

We have been propagating The Right to Play for the last 11 years... standing by the simple philosophy that "It's easier to Build Strong Children than to Repair Broken Men". These last few months have been rather exciting as we have had some fabulous case studies coming through from the field.

But first, what did we do and how busy were we! Here we go:

  • Toybank sensitized 376 young adults through  a Power of Play Sensitization Workshops held at schools, colleges and even Corporate offices
  • 10,585 children received access to massive Play Impact Centers across Urban Bombay & Rural Maharashtra from September through November
  • 3013 children from the existing Toybank centers received fresh games & toys
  • 2122 children got to take his/her favorite toy home through our distribution events
  • Over 77 teachers went through Toybank's Power of Play Training sessions & thus learnt how to use the Toy libraries to ensure maximum impact for each child that uses these centers

We opened a large Impact Center that caters to children who have been rehabilitated from Sex trafficking. This was one of Toybank's most important assignments as it not only catered to over 2500 children alone but by setting up our largest Toy library at their 17 centers; we have ensured that the children do not get back into this racket. Not only this, this Impact Center is attracting many other children from the vicinity to join these centers and thus have a more secure environment to spend their time at.

We have been tracking these centers closely and we are very pleased to see the change being driven so consistently through our Impact Centers.

7-year old Tushar studies at a local Municipal School. His mother is concerned that he is not talking and is very quiet for his age. Tushar is 7 years old and can say about 100 words that his parents can understand, but are not clear. He points and gestures to get what he wants and has some temper tantrums when he is not understood.

His father thinks that Tushar is a late talker like he was. He thinks Tushar will talk when he is ready. But his mother has noticed that his 4 -year old sister is already talking, Reading words and saying a few words and exclamations. This is something Tushar did not do at the same age.

Once Tushar starting coming to the Toybank center at this Municipal School, he started opening up. He began to follow instructions given by his parents or teachers at the School. He is now very interactive with his parents and engages easily with other children, playing mostly alongside his peers, but showing some cooperative play. He particularly likes to play with sand and he gets excited when the sand table is opened up for play. But through play he was engaged in the mathematical and alphabetical games. He learned Math very well and is also speaking better.

And we received some super feedback too!

“It was really an amazing and fulfilling experience to be a part of the Toybank initiative and moreover for the two hours of happiness spent with the kids at the school. Surely I want to be part of many more such events which will be imprinted in my memory and cherished forever.” - Swasti Singh (Volunteer)

“It was so much fun to meet such a bunch of enthusiastic kids! We went with lots of toys and came back with hearts full of joy. Every Toybank activity has been an incredibly enriching and wonderful experience.”- Sheetal Vanwari (Volunteer)

 We are looking forward to the coming months especially the New Year which always brings positive hopes for better times. We hope that the children of the world be liberated & free from all forms of evil & simply get to be kids again.

Organising Teacher's Training Sessions
Organising Teacher's Training Sessions
At a Toy Distribution Activity
At a Toy Distribution Activity
Learning to Speak up!
Learning to Speak up!
Tracking the Games played with at our Centers
Tracking the Games played with at our Centers
A complete Picture!
A complete Picture!

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"You make the world a better place, by making yourself a better person."

This line has stayed with us over the years of our work and we try everyday to teach this to all the children we work with.

The last 2 months have been very exciting at Toybank! Scores of activities and Power of Play workshops for both the teachers as well as children have been rolling out across our Urban as well as Rural projects.

Toybank also celebrated an epic Independence Day with 900 kids at a Government school in Govandi, Mumbai on August 15th, 2015. This was Toybank's 11th Birthday and a 100 Toybankers from all across the city joined this celebration. What made this so special was that everyone who was present on this early morning of this fun day, well... Every one of them was a 'MAGICIAN'! They just did their job... of spreading magic all around. :-)

It was a riot of an event with over 100 volunteers ensuring the kids had a super memorable day!

Here are some testimonials from the volunteers at the celebration:

“A perfect way to celebrate Independence Day. Giving children their freedom to play with toys and games. It has been an amazing experience spending time with the kids and interacting with them. I would like to thank Toybank to come up with such a wonderful idea and taking one step ahead to be the change people want to see. A day well spent at Toybank. :) Thank you.” – Nandita Sulay

 

"69th Independence Day of India! - this was itself a wonderful feeling to start my day, and the visit to Shree Geeta Vidyalaya with Edelgive Foundation in association with Toybank was just like flower blooming in the garden! As I entered the school, I felt a lump in my throat as India’s national anthem being sung by these little angels. When I walked into the classroom, I felt my childhood around me. Those children with their innocent thoughts made me believe in their dreams. I was walking in the present but I realized that these 1000 odd kids are looking forward to make their future bright by choosing the role to serve our society." -Rutu Charan

Here is a Case story of one of our kids from our Partners:

Sandeep, a 10 year old boy studies at our partnering Government school in the suburbs of Mumbai. He hails from a very low economic background and stays with his family in one of the suburb slums.

At the Toybank play sessions, we always observed that Sandeep use to love playing with the board games provided in that center but somehow always ignored the numerical games!

Our team thought of interacting with his teacher to understand how he copes up with his academics. We investigated further to check his Math grades. His teacher mentioned that Sandeep was very good at academics but somehow was very weak in Math. He not only hated the subject but had developed a massive fear against Math.

We thought about how we could resolve this problem for Sandeep and his teacher. And thus began our slow and steady intervention of playing all possible games that involved counting and arithmetic Numerical board games. We quietly got him to add, subtract and multiply through the play methods involved in those specific board games!

After 2 months of playing with these numerical board games we slowly managed to  remove his fear of Math. We made it fun for him instead! It helped him to build up his confidence and see any Math question as a challenge. Slowly, this also helped in increasing his interest in this subject.

Finally, it was a success story for both, Sandeep as well as our team when we heard his teacher saying that in his last Math exam, Sandeep had scored top marks in this grade.

It takes something as small and simple as a board game to get a child's attention out from the troubles that it is in; they are naturally attentive towards play and games.

Over the last 2 months, Toybank has reached out to 2607 children from 33 centers in Urban and Rural areas of Maharashtra.

We grateful to all of you for driving our work & supporting it like you always have.

Happy Toybanking! :-)

Playful as always!
Playful as always!
Celebrating Independence
Celebrating Independence
Priced possessions
Priced possessions
Free spirited kids!
Free spirited kids!
Toybankers!
Toybankers!
Carefree and Fun!
Carefree and Fun!
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"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

This is the ethos on which this organization has stood upon.

For the many years that Toybank- The Opentree Foundation has worked, it has diligently worked toward ensuring that children remain children with happy and soulful childhoods.

All of our work strives on being proactive so to prevent children from succumbing to immoral habits. Toybank tries to address the root cause of a problem and not wait until the child has already lost its innocence.

Sunita was an extremely shy girl who never joined the rest of the kids for group games at one of our centers. She had trouble speaking and found it difficult to respond to questions in class straightaway. However through our consistent impact assessments and play sessions, we observed that Sunita had very well developed fine and gross motor skills. So we approached her through games that promoted these skills so that she could play freely and sense her own achievement. Slowly through our constant play sessions and regular follow ups she started to speak up. She shared with us of how her home life was. She had lost her mother at a young age and he father had re-married and so she had a step mother & step sister. She constantly felt abandoned and neglected by her step-mother. In the process she had lost her confidence and was slipping into a shell. Toybank came into her life at a time when she was almost losing herself. It took her a while to come through and play with the other kids. But even then, she used to play solo games at Toybank such as Brainvita, Puzzles and ball-catch on the wall! After much following up & regular play time, today Sunita is one of the brightest kids in her class and has a talent of singing!

It takes something as small and simple as a Toy to get a child's attention out from the troubles that it is in; they are naturally attentive towards toys.

For the children like Sunita, who have difficult lives, there is no environment at all for them to act child like. A small toy gives that space where a child gets an opportunity to look away from all the problems and be a child again. The more time the child gets to be a child, the healthier and safer it is for the child itself and ultimately for the society.

This way we want to get their attention, instil in them the values and give exposure to them so that they realize and feel that there is an opportunity for them to get out of their troubled lives and be hopeful of a better tomorrow.

Over the last 3 months, Toybank has reached out to 1702 children from 26 centers who have tough lives such as Sunita's. It is such a powerful undertaking of returning lost childhoods. Toybank is constantly addressing the developmental needs in children through games, toys and play.

The Five Major Goals through which our work is driven are:

1. Accessibility: For children to first have simple access to morally correct toys and healthy play

2. Interest in Life: They are motivated for themselves and feel excited to live

3. Going to school: Their interest to study increases through play

4. Academic performance: They are motivated to finish school & are able to take informed decisions

5. Happiness: That the kids must always have fun; ensuring that they're kids all the way & don't lose out on their childhood too soon.

We believe that qualities like passion, enthusiasm and goodness, are qualities which are planted at the root level. Once these qualities are in place, no matter what line of life these kids take up, they'll always be immensely confident & successful in whatever they do. At our play sessions we are trying to get the kids out of their shields that have come up due to their circumstances and make them into individuals who are excited about the littlest things they do, fill them with enthusiasm, confidence and passion.

Through 2013 & 2014 and a team size of 6 :

- we opened 176 Toybank Libraries across Bombay and Rural Maharashtra

- these centers impact the lives of 25,546 children EVERYDAY

- many of these children come from below poverty line and/or very low income households 

- these children are learning so much through our regular play sessions:

  1. what it means to be a confident person; 
  2. values are instilled in them, especially the boys who are learning to control their anger and frustration by concentrating their energies in intense games & team activities organised by Toybank;
  3. they have started focusing better in their studies and as a result the school principals have narrated this to us directly telling us how much better their kids are performing in their exams;
  4. because they are studying and concentrating better, they feel a motivation to stay in schools & not drop out to earn money; 
  5. and because they stay in schools, they have a chance of going to college and be better equipped in their lives to find jobs and have a stable living in their futures

Over the last decade Toybank has recycled and distributed toys and games to 100,000+ kids and continues to do so nonstop, wherever possible in India and outside, all the way even to the kids in the Himalayas and kids in remote areas of Bhutan!

There is a lot that needs to be done. We are on it. We want to better India and get it to have sensitive, strong and ethical adults who will respect other beings, where men and women will treat one another with respect and dignity and also make a living through honest means.. and we won't stop at Toybank till we know that that change is finally a permanent one.

Hoping to stay connected with all of you who have supported our work through Global Giving.  Do let us know if you would like to understand our budget and work in greater detail. We are also very happy to have volunteers come and engage in what we do. Toybank thrives on the power of volunteers as we believe that for positive change to set in permanently, we all need to work together with that common purpose.

Play helps children concentrate & focus better
Play helps children concentrate & focus better
Power of Play workshop for Teachers
Power of Play workshop for Teachers
Stacking up games for our Centers
Stacking up games for our Centers
Promoting healthy play in Schools
Promoting healthy play in Schools

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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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