At the essence of every nostalgic childhood memory, lies a special toy, maybe a rag-doll made from scraps of cloth, brightly coloured cars or a tiny kitchen set. They become such an integral part of our younger years, but for many underprivileged children playing with toys may seem like a distant dream. Recognising this, Vidyun Goel kickstarted an initiative called The Toy Bank to bring toys to marginalised areas in the country. Toys aren’t just simply recreational, they develop cognitive and motor skills in children and become an important tool in their emotional and social development. By making toys a part of the everyday lives of these children, The Toy Bank wishes to promote children’s holistic development and their overall happiness.
They have collection centres around the country where you can donate preloved toys and storybooks. They refurbish and clean them, and then send them off to one of their many target areas. They have established Gender-Neutral Toy Libraries and also work with educational centres and anganwadis. In fact, their impact analysis has recorded a significant decrease in drop-out rates after accessibility to toys and recreational resources increased. Goel tells She The People, “There was a particular anganwadi teacher from Dewas District in Madhya Pradesh, who called to tell me that the children hadn’t seen or played with toys for the past 10 years. There was another teacher who told me that because of the creation of Toy Libraries, the dropout rates of children have fallen.”
Facilitating learning and merging with mainstream education has also been made easier, as children tend to pick up alphabets and numbers better with the help of engaging visual aids. The Toy Bank has also formulated programs to provide toys to children with special needs. The toys are organised and distributed according to the age and intellectual capacity of the children receiving them, but never according to gender. As the website states, “In the strive to break gender barriers using toys, we have always ensured that the Toy Kits consist of a mixture of toys irrespective of the gender of the children it is being created for.”
Goel was also firm on making the organisation as sustainable as possible, by recycling used toys and not creating waste – one of their mottos is “Recycling Toys-Recycling Smiles!” They also teach children the importance of recycling and other environmental values.
Feature image source: The Toy Bank
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