We believe that social inclusion can start with young children and their eagerness to play and learn!
- Project TOY for Inclusion -
TOY for Inclusion is coordinated by International Child Development Initiatives (Netherlands). Other partners are the International Step-by-Step Association (Netherlands) and seven members of the Romani Early Years Network (REYN): the Developmental Research Centre for Pedagogical Initiatives Step by Step (Slovenia), the Open Academy Step by Step (Croatia), the Centre for Education Initiatives (Latvia), the Wide Open School (Slovakia), the Centre for Innovation in the Early Years (Belgium), Associazione 21 Luglio (Italy) and the Partners Hungary Foundation (Hungary).
Free play with toys provided in the play hub in Sisak (Croatia)
The project aims to improve Roma children’s experience of transition to school through an innovative response to discrimination against Roma communities.
It establishes community‑based early childhood education and care (ECEC) play hubs where relationships are built between Roma and non-Roma young children and their families, and interaction is supported in safe play spaces across all generations. The play hubs are the result of cooperation between early years services, which jointly assess the needs of local young children and families, and work with them to design the activities on offer.
What is an ECEC play hub?
The play hubs are spaces where:
• children and their families feel welcome and can play together;
• (grand)parents from different backgrounds can meet and take part in creative and social activities; and
• (grand)parents can easily access information on parenting, health, early learning and development.
So far, the project has created eight Play Hubs for young children in seven EU countries (Belgium, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Slovenia and Slovakia) and the results have been extraordinary:
• the received wisdom that ECEC service delivery is only possible in a formal environment has been challenged;
• trust has been built between families and communities from different backgrounds;
• vulnerable families have been given greater access to early years services;
• all generations have interacted and learned together; and
• an important community safe space has been provided for interagency cooperation between early years services.
Results in numbers (2018):
- About 3 200 children took part in the play hub activities. Around 35 % were of Roma origin;
- About 80 workshops and info sessions were held for Roma and non-Roma adults, including parenting support, intergenerational activities, handcraft and toy-making workshops, and info sessions for parents in cooperation with other community services;
- Around 25 % of workshop leaders were Roma.
It was the play hubs that attracted particular acknowledgment. They received a European award as the best ‘inclusive learning environment’ (LLL Awards 2018).
For more information, you can visit the project website and download the main outputs:
- TOY for Inclusion Toolkit;
- TOY for Inclusion What Works Guide.
Book reading at the play hub in Rome (Italy)
A big thank you to Giulia Cortellesi (project manager) for keeping us updated on progress so far. We are happy to see EU funding helping to achieve such valuable results, with a concrete impact on fundamental rights in the EU. Another piece of good news is that TOY for Inclusion will be receiving new funding support from the Erasmus+ programme (KA3). The new grant (for 2019‑2021) will be used to open another hub in each of the current countries and to introduce this good practice in Turkey.
Again, congratulations to all the TOY for Inclusion team!!