TOY for Inclusion kicks off in Lelystad

On April 11th, TOY for Inclusion kicked off in Lelystad. A TOY For Inclusion Play Hub aims to open its doors in May 2022. This is the second location for a Play Hub in the Netherlands, after Enschede in 2020.

Fifteen people attended the kick-off meeting and the first Local Action Team training in Lelystad, including five members from the Local Action Team of Enschede.

The Lelystad location will include:

  • a children’s health care centre,
  • preschool and primary school,
  • the Diaconal Ministry and its debt counselling and community centre, and
  • the LimonadeBrigade (multi-agency cooperation of services for young children and families).

The Local Action Team will include a Roma mediator and Play Hub assistant, as well as other social partners, including youth and community workers.

The kick-off meeting took place in the Salvation Army’s community centre “Believing in the neighbourhood” where the Play Hub will be located. The Local Action Team coordinator from Slovakia, Peter Strazik, took part in the meeting via Teams. He shared experiences from the two TOY Play Hubs in in Slovakia.

In Lelystad, with the Play Hub activities, the Salvation Army will focus on families and children from 0 to 4 (preschool age). The aim is to offer non-formal education activities in an inclusive and intercultural environment. Through Play Hub activities, they hope to improve the transition experience of Roma children into (pre)schools. By smoothing these transitions, the hope is to discourage Roma children from dropping out later in their schooling.

With around 300 Roma, Lelystad – like Enschede – is among the municipalities in the Netherlands with the highest Roma population. Though in the past several years, almost all Roma children attend school from the age of 4, children dropping out of secondary school remains a big problem. Many of their families are dealing with additional social issues, and the unemployment rate is high among Roma.

TOY for Inclusion, promotes inter-sectoral cooperation between early childhood and social health services and Roma communities to build trust between families and services. The Salvation Army, and other partners in TOY for Inclusion, aim to use the project’s approach to include more children in early childhood activities and contribute to better prospects for their futures.