A full house for the TOY for Inclusion international event!

- News

TOY for Inclusion will have a full house at the international event on November 19th! The event in Ghent, Belgium, will celebrate the project amazing success and will share the knowledge acquired in the past two years.

Since its launch in 2017, TOY for Inclusion has opened eight Play Hubs in seven European countries: one in Belgium, Croatia, Latvia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and two in Italy.

Thanks to the work of local communities and professionals, the TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs became the gateway to kindergarten and school for many Romani children.

By enhancing social cohesion and by supporting the parents, the project has been successful in fostering social inclusion for Romani young children and families.

After one year of preparations, the doors of the Play Hubs opened (in early 2018). Since then, they have been providing opportunities for children and adults, Roma and non-Roma, to integrate and develop. At the event, you will be able to hear their experiences directly from them.

The mid-term results are encouraging (first half of 2018)!

  • 1700 children participated to the Play Hub activities.
  • 30% of children were from Roma origin, according to estimations.
  • 77 workshops and info-sessions were held for Roma and non-Roma adults: including parenting support, intergenerational activities, hand-craft and toy-making workshops, info-sessions for parents in cooperation with other community services.
  • 10% of workshop leaders were Roma.

The tools and the resources that are at the core of this success will be available at the event;  read more about TOY for Inclusion.

Where: Vredehuis, Sint-Margrietstraat 9, Ghent, Belgium.

When: November, 19th 2018.

Consult the program here.

TOY for Inclusion: Roma and non-Roma children now play together

- News

“I am happy that my children don’t have to stay in the street”, a Roma mother says.

In Ghent (Belgium), TOY for Inclusion has an outreach program that involves Roma families and children with activities around the city. Thanks to their work, practitioners have managed to gain the trust of families, and Roma and non-Roma children now play together.

‘I am happy that my children can come here. That they have a place where to play. I am happy that they don’t have to stay in the street the whole time’, says a Roma mother from Ghent. She prefers to remain anonymous to protect her privacy.

TOY for Inclusion partner, the Centre for Innovation in the Early Years (VBJK) works with VZW Jong and VZW Rode Lotus in areas with a high concentration of Roma families. VZW Jong and VZW Rode Lotus are two civil society organizations with the mission to strengthen community-based services at the local level.

A practitioner says

“Children are children and parents are parents. Parents just want the same things for their children all around the world. They want them to feel good. It is important to focus on this ‘simple’ concept when organizing activities for children. And we should know that working with children means also involving families and take into account their wellbeing”, says Gwen Pannecoucke, practitioner at VZW Jong.

In Ghent, instead of having one fixed location where to play, TOY for Inclusion is adopting an outreach program in order to involve Roma families around the city. Children are offered different activities: they cook together, they swim, they eat and play together, all things that wouldn’t happen without the specific attention towards inclusion that TOY for Inclusion brought.

Integration works!

Practitioners report to be positively surprised by the growing number of friendships they saw developing among children, especially children with different origins: at the beginning, children were playing much in separated ‘ethnic’ groups. Through the development of TOY for Inclusion, they have been playing all together and made new friends.


TOY for Inclusion inspires children in Belgium!

- News

Playing, reading and drawing is highly beneficial for the development of young children. In this video we see learning activities organized in Ghent, Belgium, by the Centre for Innovation in the Early Years (VBJK) within the TOY for Inclusion project.

TOY for Inclusion supports learning and playing for all children between 0 and 8 years old thanks to the creation of Play Hubs in 7 European countries. The project organizes extra activities that are not offered by compulsory schooling. TOY for Inclusion’s Play Hubs are developed with the local community which brings together people from different cultural backgrounds including Roma and non-Roma.

Read more about TOY for Inclusion.


The struggle of Roma people in Ghent, Belgium

- Blog | REYN Admin

By Samira Wymeersch, REYN member from Belgium.

I live in Ghent, a city in the Northern Flemish-speaking part of Belgium, with more or less 250.000 inhabitants. These last years the city of Ghent has changed: the European Union has welcomed a number of new members, such as Bulgarians, Slovakians and Romanians. The people of Ghent met with people migrating from these countries; many of them were of Roma origins.

Some of them, mostly the Bulgarians, had the ambition to stay and were embedded in the network of the Turkish families (Turkish migrant workers were invited to come and work in Belgium in the ’60). Many others came unprepared and were pushed out by their home countries through discrimination and exclusion – mostly Slovakia. Others roamed: they came when they saw an opportunity and they left when they ran out of money – mostly Romanians.

In a very short time there was a large inflow, which put pressure on services and provisions. There were problems with housing, temporary jobs, exploitation and sometimes discrimination. The city of Ghent made up a policy on these new Intra-European Migrants; called IEM from now on. There are two tracks in this policy: one is focusing on integration; the other tackles abuse and social safety.

The project for which I work (BIEM – Brugfiguren Intra-Europese Migratie / School Mediators Intra-European Migration Project) is can be situated in the ‘integration-track’.

In particular, we want all children from the age of 2 and ½ till the age of 12 years (at least) to be able to enjoy the right to education in a qualitative way. We believe that education is a strong tool to empower people and to enlarge their possibilities and choices in life.


We aim to bridge gaps between the conditions in which some of the children of these newly arrived migrants live and the expectations that school have.
We work on building trust between all relevant actors.
We strive to link parents and children from different origins and ideologies – amongst each other and with school teams and other professionals.

We love to blur boundaries when working together with education staff; social workers; early childhood specialists; etc. in order to come to an effective collaboration.
We build bridges between institutions and between people.