In March 2020, TOY for Inclusion partners submitted a questionnaire to local policymakers to sound out their opinion about the project and its impact in their municipalities.
Here some insights into what we learned from them:
- TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs are considered safe spaces that promote social inclusion.
- Their successful outreach to vulnerable groups gives them a unique ability to detect the needs of the community.
- They offer opportunities to children and their parents for meaningful connections.
- The Hubs allow them to spend time playing and learning together in friendly and stimulating environments.
- One of the significant benefits of these Hubs is the atmosphere, which values differences and active contribution from everyone is appreciated.
Children benefit from the TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs in terms of increased participation in education (formal and informal services); peer and intergenerational learning; enhanced social, emotional, cognitive, communication, and cooperative skills; better understanding and tolerance towards other cultures; and free access to quality toys.
Local authorities see the TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs as a tool to promote the importance of early childhood development and support parents in their active involvement in their child’s upbringing as well as to build cooperative relations between educational services and families. Play Hubs promote integrated work, diverse workforce, community development, and cohesion.
Thanks to the Hubs, local municipalities can connect more closely to their citizens, assess their needs, and pass on the messages while increasing families’ sense of belonging to the community.
From the perspective of the municipality, the key ingredients that contribute to the success of a Play Hub are an accessible and functional location; a diverse and well-trained staff; close collaboration between institutions and implementing NGOs; an integrated package of formal and informal services; and the contribution of volunteers.
On the other side of the coin, financing, the novelty of the approach, and beneficiaries’ engagement are the most recurrent challenges threatening the desired impact of the TOY Play Hubs.
The success of the Play Hubs in several locations has inspired municipalities to embed TOY for Inclusion’s approach in local policy.
When asked how this process took place, municipal representatives say that they saw the Play Hub as an opportunity for non-formal education and family support as well as a chance for vulnerable groups to become role models for inclusion. The successful implementation of the project in other municipalities also represented a great incentive. Therefore, they decided to invest in the establishment of such Play Hubs in their communities, providing free spaces and funding to cover utilities and staff costs. In some cases, they even integrated the Play Hub in the official educational and cultural municipal program!
TOY for Inclusion is scaling up the approach as an increasing number of municipalities are expressing interest in setting up Play Hubs. Our local partners are organizing local training activities and visits to the existing Play Hubs. Stay tuned to learn more about designing local action plans, assessments of running costs, and analysing local needs.
Looking for more information on the TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs? Learn more here.