News

Scaling up TOY for Inclusion: what to expect next

What is happening next with TOY for Inclusion? Currently we are preparing the launch of more Play Hubs in 2020. At the end of this year a European event will showcase the stories of children and families.

The TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs prepare children at risk of exclusion for kindergarten and school. Over the past two years, the project has created eight Play Hubs for young children in seven EU countries: one in Belgium, Croatia, Latvia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and two in Italy. TOY for Inclusion has been an award winning international success for its services to thousands of children and families.

While many are enjoying the hot summer we have been busy with looking for 8 new Play Hub locations, including one in Turkey and one in the Netherlands. They will all open in early 2020.

What are the Play Hubs?

They support the early childhood development of Romani, migrant and vulnerable children to foster their integration in schools and preschools. Each Play Hub is coordinated by a practitioner. Read more here.

Advocacy plans

In addition, the advocacy will play a key role in this new phase. We are preparing several campaign actions to advise EU and local policy makers on how non-formal educational activities in early childhood policies can foster inclusion. A European event at the end of 2019 will showcase the stories of children and families.

Stay tuned as more news will follow!

TOY for Inclusion, an international success

It’s four thousand the total number of children involved in the TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs throughout Europe in 2018. One third of them being from Romani origin. An unexpected success supported by local communities.

In January 2018, when the Play Hubs were about to be launched, these numbers would have been unthinkable by many.

About 2,400 parents and grandparents participated in the 250 activities organized by over four hundred practitioners, nearly 20% being of Roma origin. Access all the numbers here.

We started in eight towns and villages where the segregation of Romani children in school and of families in many aspects of their life is a confronting issue.

Thanks to the voluntary work of local communities and professionals, the TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs became the gateway to kindergarten and school for many Romani children.

Along the way, TOY for Inclusion has received encouraging words of appreciation from parents, children and political leaders. We shall not forget the words of Anna Dirdova, Roma mother of six children who said “I have never felt so welcome and respected before.” And neither those of the Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, who in Slovakia told us, “your project is the best example of how to include Roma children at an early age”.

At the end of 2018 we were delighted to receive the Lifelong Learning Awards in the category ‘Best Learning Environment’.

This success gave us a strong new push to do more. In 2019, TOY for Inclusion will create more Play Hubs in seven countries and will expand to Turkey. Stay tuned!

Disclaimer: our data about Roma are based on estimations; TOY for Inclusion does not collect information based on the ethnic origin of participants.

TOY for Inclusion mid-term results now available in seven languages

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Toy for Inclusion is the gateway to (pre)school for may Romani children. Now the preliminary project results are available in many different languages.

We have run the numbers! The figures of TOY for Inclusion are available per country and in seven languages (period January-September 2018).

The languages available are:

All the figures of TOY for Inclusion can be accessed online here and via the page toy4inclusion.eu. A summary with the final results of 2018 will be published soon.

Stay tuned!

Elina is happy she can play! New TOY for Inclusion video

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“I am happy because I can play with other children,” says Elina. The new TOY for Inclusion video is out. In the Play Hubs, Roma and non-Roma children play and learn together. And parents too! They can meet informally, follow workshop and receive advice from professionals.

Watch the video

Ending Romani children segregation – TOY for Inclusion

www.toy4inclusion.eu Many children are deprived of their right to access quality education, care or playing. TOY for Inclusion is the gateway to kindergarten and school for young children and families at the margins, including Romani and migrants. We create Play Hubs where we offer toys to share and borrow, support to parents and learning activities for children to better transition to kindergarten and school.

Posted by REYN – Romani Early Years Network on Monday, 21 January 2019

 

Many children today are deprived of their right to access quality education, care or playing. TOY for Inclusion is the gateway to kindergarten and school for young children and families at the margins, including Romani and migrants.

Over the past two years, the project has created eight Play Hubs for young children and families in seven European Union countries: one in Belgium, Croatia, Latvia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and two in Italy.

The Play Hubs are often located in the local kindergarten, school or library. Children can borrow the toys they don’t have at home and follow educational activities. Families and volunteers of both communities can meet each other, follow workshops and receive (or give) professional advice.

TOY for Inclusion prepares children for formal education and helps the schools arrange the children’s arrival at every new school year. Together: children, parents and local communities are taking steps toward the end of Roma segregation.

Find out more about the project here.

What children say about TOY for Inclusion in Slovakia

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The TOY for Inclusion Play Hub in Slovakia keeps receiving appraisals! Recently we reported about Thorbjørn Jagland, the Council of Europe Secretary General and other high level politicians who applauded the project. Today we are happy to share some cheerful quotes that children who attend the Play Hub have told us!

The TOY for Inclusion Play Hub in Spišský Hrhov (Slovakia) is placed in the local kindergarten and school and it’s visited every day by dozens of children.

This is what they say.

“I was amazed to see the colors of the room… We don’t play at home because we don’t have such modern and new toys. My father left us when I was a baby, so my mom takes care of me on her own. Last time before going home, Tatiana [a volunteer], told my mom we could take some toys with us at home. I could not simply believe that! We took a Lego set home and I spent long time constructing it until I fell asleep.” Zuzana, 8 years old.

“We come in and make ourselves comfortable. There is no day without Play Hub, I can’t wait to come again tomorrow!” Sonia, 6 years old.

What parents say

“A unique place for us Roma mothers. I have never seen a place where so many different children play together like in our Play Hub.” Monika, mother of 4 children.

“I have never felt so welcome and respected before. My boys are happy to play with other children of the village and nobody treats them any different. They even have the chance to use books and toys I could not afford. What a perfect place!” Anna Dirdova, Roma mother of six children.

Learn more about the TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs here.

TOY for Inclusion wins LLLAwards 2018 for best learning environment

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We are delighted to announce that our project TOY for Inclusion will receive the Lifelong Learning Awards 2018 next Monday, December 3rd!  The prize is awarded by the Lifelong Learning Platform to initiatives that set up creative and inclusive practices.

This year’s edition will focus on the LLLPlatform’s theme of the year, “Lifelong Learning Culture: A partnership for rethinking education”.

The jury has picked 3 winners, one for each of the three categories. TOY for Inclusion has received the highest score in the category ‘Learning Environments’. The prize was assigned by an exceptional jury.

We share the pride and the joy with our international partners the International Step-by-Step Association (ISSA) and the International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI); and with seven members of REYN: Educational Research Institute – ERI (Slovenia), Open Academy Step by Step – OASS (Croatia), Centre for Education Initiatives – CEI (Latvia), Wide Open School – WOS (Slovakia), Centre for Innovation in the Early Years – VBJK (Belgium), Associazione 21 Luglio (Italy) and Partners Hungary Foundation.

For more, follow the hashtag #toy4inclusion or the REYN Twitter and Facebook.

TOY for Inclusion Phase II to focus on Romani and migrant

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Great news! TOY for Inclusion has received extra funding that will allow the opening of more Play Hubs in 2019-2021.

The new grant awarded by the European Commission will enlarge the group of beneficiaries to include migrant and hard to reach children too.

Thanks to the new funding, the project will open one new Play Hub in each participant country and will expand to Turkey.

“We are delighted to hear that TOY for Inclusion’s Play Hubs can continue to bring services to many children and families of disadvantaged communities. These Play Hubs provide much needed opportunities for families to meet, for children and adults to play together and for parents to receive expert advice on how to nurture child development”, says Mathijs Euwema, Director of International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI) which coordinates the project.

The Play Hubs are inclusive spaces where children and families from different backgrounds are encouraged to play and learn: while children are allowed to borrow toys, information about childrearing, health, early learning and development is passed on informally to (grand)parents.

“I have never felt so welcomed and respected before”, said Ana Dirdova, Romani mother of six and Play Hub participant in Spišský Hrhov, Slovakia.

The project has created eight Play Hubs for young children in seven EU countries: one in Belgium, Croatia, Latvia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and two in Italy.

Since their opening in early 2018, the Play Hubs have been applauded by children, families and public authorities.

The results in 2018 (January-September)

  • About 3200 children have participated to the Play Hub activities. An estimated 35% of children were from Roma origin.
  • About 80 workshops and info-sessions were held for Roma and non-Roma adults: including parenting support, intergenerational activities, hand-craft and toy-making workshops, info-sessions for parents in cooperation with other community services.
  • Roughly 25% of workshop leaders were Roma.

Read more about TOY for Inclusion here.