I dream that Play integrates into our way of life. That ‘Play is food for the child’s mind. Let it not go hungry’, becomes something to live by.
– Shweta Chari, Co-founder, CEO, Toybank
It’s been a while since I wrote something first hand so I thought I would give you an update of all the ‘play’ful things’ that we have been up to at Toybank!
I kept trying to write and wanted to let all of you know of all the prodigious happenings at our end and how the lives of all the children and teachers we have been working with, are getting transformed, but somehow I couldn’t write. But rest assured, our work is running literally in 5th gear, like there’s no tomorrow!
As always, in the earnest need of wanting to stay authentic to my feelings and wanting to bring out my best to share with you, it was getting hard! The last few years have been tough, challenging and extremely overwhelming to say the least. (as it has for most of us that have walked through this tough pandemic phase). But here I am now, steadily emerging, maybe a tad bit wiser and definitely fully charged up, with a sense of determination like I have never felt before!
Here goes, brace for impact as I always say!
The years 2020, 2021, 2022 and now 2023 and 2024 are historically going to be defined as the landmark years for us in the foundation. More on that will follow in my subsequent writeups, but for now, let’s focus on June 2023.
Quick data to contextualise:
- We are now working with close to 75,000 children and 5,000+ teachers
- Across 7 active districts in Maharashtra
- Our current team size is 44 members
- And we have close to 600 active volunteers engaging with us through our various play programmes
In June 2023, I was able to represent our organisation at the International Play Association conference held in Glasgow, Scotland. This was a magical experience, listening to people talk about everything Play for a whole week! We had conversations and discussions that were far beyond ‘Why Play is important’ and instead directly focused on, ‘How can we build entire programmes, communities, cities and even countries with Play at its central core?’ I felt at home with all the beautiful ‘Play People’ all around me. I realised how ahead of our times our foundation is in a way when we think about Play, and how we have been driving for Play centric programmes for the last almost two decades. I felt proud, humbled and super excited through this entire experience at the conference!
Read about it here.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, as part of World Play Day, on May 28, we organised an Ink and Doodle workshop in collaboration with our dear Play Ambassador, Arzan Khambatta, renowned architect and sculptor. Our children were left in wonder and amusement, when the workshop helped them think outside the box. Witness their excitement here. We also made a new friend in the foundation, Karan Shah, whose art focuses on looking at everyday objects through a different lens.
He left the children in wonder, and showed them how to think from different perspectives, to think beyond their imagination when looking at everyday objects. This workshop was held at a one-of-kind store called the Turn Around Shop that allowed us to use their space for free and not only that, but supported the entire event end-to-end for us, thus marking the start of a gigantic partnership with these amazing folks.
And something else happened, too! Our foundation has been listed on the Charities America Foundation platform! This is super exciting for us, especially when we are bang in the middle of a massive growth trajectory. Now, folks in America can make tax exempt donations to us till November 2023. It would be amazing if you could champion this for us: Share this news with your friends and people you know and invite them to support us.
Thank you for guiding us, being with us and quietly pushing our cause through all this time.
I dream that ‘Play’ integrates into our way of life. That “Play is food for the child’s mind. Let it not go hungry,” becomes something to live by.
And that we realise the ‘Right to Play’ in India, well within our lifetime.
Shweta Chari is the co-founder and CEO of Toybank – Development through Play