While education, sports and fine arts are all directed towards helping a child's growth and development an NGO in Mumbai, Toybank, is working towards empowering under-privileged children through play-time!
Growing up as a child, board games and play-time were a huge part of my life. I have spent my entire school years in a small town in Belgium. During the winters the sun would start to set halfway through the day, so we would stay in on the weekdays. To beat the winter blues, my entire family would get together and kick start the evening by playing board games like Sequence, Monopoly and Scrabble and we would end the night on a few rounds of any card game.
Not only was this a good way to bond after a long day of hard work for all of us, but also an opportunity of skill development for both my sister and me. We developed many skills through these play sessions. Monopoly has to be one of my all-time favourite board games.
It taught me to follow rules, to be competitive, to negotiate, to be patient, to wait my turn and above all to enjoy play time to the fullest.
Sometimes I was made banker – a banker’s role is to manage the bank’s money and collect money from and distribute money to players – which gave me a sense of responsibility. One of the main values, and one that I am proud of having, was fair play and ethics while playing board games. Children don’t realise how their actions can hurt others around them.
From an early age on, board games teach you the value of fair play, which does contribute to a child’s perspective and behaviour towards real-life situations in the future.
Children also need to be imparted the skill of thinking and planning ahead. Here, board games play a crucial role in helping children strategise. More complex games don’t just require your attention for the moment in which you are playing your turn, but they force you to think ahead, to think of a long-term strategy. Before the opponent has finished playing his/her turn, you should have already planned your next move. This doesn’t only help kids think ahead in games, but would also be of help later on, when they face real-life situations.
Working with ConnectFor, I have come across a lot of different NGOs in the space, all doing great things across many cause areas.
However, Toybank’s aim, of giving back the right of childhood and helping a child’s development through play, has resonated with me the most.
Founded by Sweta Chari, Toybank began operations by distributing toys to over 1,500 children in Mumbai on Children’s Day, in 2004 and has successfully managed to distribute toys and games to over 1,00,000 children across India since 2015. Their vision is ‘to create a world where all children are empowered through healthy play’ while addressing development needs among under privileged children.
There are many children out there, in low-income communities, who may be fortunate enough to receive an education, but are most probably missing out on structured playtime – which they may not deem as important. Toybank has stepped in to introduce the concept of ‘development through play’ in a child’s life, by working with volunteers who are: training teachers on how to play board games, so that they in turn play board games with kids, or are playing these board games with kids themselves. They believe that investing in mental development through their childhood would help in stimulating a better perspective and approach towards life in their adulthood.
Toybank specifically focuses on the behavioural and mental growth of at-risk children and has collaborated with institutions in both urban and rural areas to set up Game Libraries where they conduct their play sessions and other development activities.
While academics, sports and fine arts are important for a child’s growth and development – helping them understand where their interests lie – so is playtime! Playtime gives them a breathing space from all the other essential activities and helps develop their skills.
As part of their Annual Distribution Event this year, Toybank is hoping to collect around 2.000 toys/games and gift them to over 600 children. To be a part of this cause and bring joy to these children, you can donate games, toys and interactive books, or you could join Toybank at their Annual Distribution Event in September, 2017 as a volunteer.
To donate, you can get in touch with the ConnectFor team on +91 7977 347 851 or +91 22 61201312 and to volunteer for the toy distribution drive you can visit their website.