The TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs organize play-based activities designed to help children develop necessary skills and knowledge for formal education. Here you can find where they are located and why.
Croatia: Sisak and Orehovica
In Sisak the Play Hub is located in the primary school of Braća Bobetko. Many children go there after school. There is a large Roma community in Sisak, 2.165 Roma people out of a total population of 61.497. Children from the Roma settlements in the surroundings also join the Play Hub activities.
The Play Hub was opened by the mayor Kristina Baniček and by Klara Perković, mayor of the children’s city council. The opening ceremony was highly attended by the local community: children, parents, grandparents and volunteers. The municipality of Sisak has also produced a booklet to promote the project.
The Play Hub opens on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 17:00 to 19:00.
Orehovica is a municipality in Međimurje County with 2.685 inhabitants (1.965 adults and 720 children). A large Roma community lives in this municipality (18,9 percent of the whole population), many of them are unemployed.
Most Roma speak Croatian as a second language and Bayash language as first. According to the given data, all children are enrolled in both preschool and school but retention and attendance rates are lower than country average. The Play Hub is located in the primary school and opens twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday. It organizes stay and play sessions, reading aloud activities, arts and crafts, workshops for parents.
Italy: Rome and Mazara del Vallo
Two Play Hubs have opened in Italy. One is located in Tor Bella Monaca (a suburb of Rome), the other one is in Mazara del Vallo, Sicily.
In Rome the Play Hub is located in a disadvantaged neighborhood called Tor Bella Monaca, where also migrant and minority families live. The Play Hub organizes stay and play sessions, reading aloud activities, arts and craft sessions, workshops for parents.
It is open every Saturday from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00. It also organizes mobile activities in the neighborhood.
Mazara del Vallo: a large Romani and a Tunisian community have been living in Mazara for at least two decades. The Play Hub welcomes thus children from different backgrounds. It has about 80 members and it is visited by more than 90 children and 50 adults regularly.
It’s called Casa di Toy and it’s open every Monday and Wednesday from 16:00 to 19:00. Like Casa di Toy on Facebook!
The opening of this toy library was made possible thanks to Associazione 21 Luglio, REYN National Coordinator in Italy. For more information you can contact Francesca Petrucci.
Latvia: Jelgava and Daugavpils
Jelgava is close to the capital, Riga, and the Play Hub is located in a municipal building dedicated to intercultural dialogue.
Over 100 families (with 150 children) from different ethnic backgrounds visit the Play Hub often. About 30 percent are Roma families. Every week the Play Hub organizes inclusive intergenerational, intercultural and community activities.
This Play Hub is open three times per week: every Monday and Tuesday 15:00 – 19:00 and every Saturday 9:00 – 13:00.
Daugavpils is the second largest city of Latvia and the only city where Latvians are not the largest national group of the population – only 19.9 percent. The Play Hub is located at the J. Raiņa Daugavpils secondary school.
Since the launch, in December 2019, it has been visited by Romani children, children with special needs and children from families with low income among visitors. It is open every Monday and Saturday 13:00 – 17:00.
Slovenia: Murska Sobota and Grosuplje
Murska Sobota is a town with a large Roma community (around 1.100 Roma). The Play Hub is located in the public library, which has a department for children and is highly attended by the families living in the surroundings. It connects people of different generations and fosters intercultural dialogue between different families from the locality.
The coordinator is a Roma practitioner and one of the most important bridging figures in the city. The Play Hub is open every Saturday from 10:00 to 12:00. It also becomes mobile, as the coordinator brings toys to preschools, schools and to minority neighborhoods where families are harder to reach.
Grosuplje is located in the central part of the country. Different minorities groups live in the city (from Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania and Roma). Roma, instead, live in settlements near the town and have no electricity or water, children usually do not attend preschool.
The Play Hub attracts about 50 families that attend its activities regularly. It is open each Wednesday from 17:00 to 19:00.
The creation of the Play Hubs was made possible thanks to the REYN National Coordinator in Slovenia Educational Research Institute – ERI. For more information you can contact Mateja Mlinar.
Slovakia: Spišský Hrhov and Roškovce
In Spišský Hrhov the Play Hub is situated in the local primary school and is accessible for the whole day to the students. In the morning, support to the school activities is provided; in the afternoon, it becomes a play space for families and children.
The Play Hub is equipped with brand new furniture, lots of books and news toys. The activities that are organized have become popular among people both from the Roma and from the majority community in the village.
The Play Hub has 225 members, half of which have Roma origins. The activities organized are crafts, cinema club, baking, cooking, intergenerational activities and fine arts. At the same time parents can benefit from parental support.
For the families the opening hours are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 15:00 to 18:00.
The village of Roškovce, in eastern Slovakia, hosts a large marginalized Roma community that rarely comes in contact with the majority population. The children in the village do not have access to early childhood facilities as nursery or kindergarten – that also due to a lack of trust that parents have in the services provided by the majority group. Children often start school unprepared, with a very basic knowledge of the national language, often lacking basic hygienic and healthy habits.
With the support of the mayor, the Play Hub is now open twice a week under the guidance of educators and volunteers. In addition to the regular lessons, joint activities, workshops, and charity events are being organized. Currently, the Play Hub is visited by more than 100 children and 60 parents. Children from Roškovce frequently visit the primary Spišský Hrhov to be able to meet peers from the majority population.
Hungary: Nagydobos and Csobanka
In Nagydobos, Piri and Teri are the two Local Action Team coordinators. They come from two different segregated parts of the village of Nagydobos. The Play Hub is a nest for inclusion in a small village where discrimination, especially against Roma is significant. It is also a magnet for other community initiatives like community gardening and sharing of cultural traditions. This Play Hub has 70 members but attracts over 300 children and family members on a quarterly basis. Around 30 percent of the participants are from Roma origins. The opening hours are Wednesday and Saturday 14:00 to 18:00 hours.
“It is wonderful here, there is a calm atmosphere. This is a play land and it’s my dream”, said a 4 years old Roma child.
Parents have access to information and support about child rearing, health and early childhood development. Like the Play Hub of Nagydobos on Facebook!
In Csobanka, the local school had been closed due to episodes of Roma segregation. Local people are willing to have an inclusive school and this helped to reopen the school. However, systemic barriers are an obstacle to real inclusion. The Play Hub is run by a local civil society organization called “Tanoda”. They provide extracurricular activities for Romani children to support their school integration and development.
The Play Hub in Enschede has opened on January 13th, 2020. It is run by two Roma mediators, Antonio and Kali. It is well visited – mainly by Romani families, with children between zero and 18 years of age.
For adults, cooking and sewing activities are organized. In the same sessions, information and advice on early childhood education and care is provided. The Play Hub is located in a church/community building where also other social activities are being organized and it is nearby the public library.
Enschede, together with neighboring Oldenzaal, is one of the so-called “Roma-municipalities”, with around 450 Romani people. It is a community at risk of exclusion with high percentages of criminality, unemployment and illiteracy. Child marriages and early pregnancies for the women also happen disproportionately more than in the majority community. Roma in Enschede, however, are looking for other perspectives in life. One of the means towards this change, is the TOY for Inclusion Play Hub.
It is opened every Monday from 12:00 to 17:00.
The Play Hub of Mersin hosts many disadvantaged groups as well as Roma community. The Local Action Team offers preschool support to young children so that they can effectively start primary school. Additionally, deficiencies in the social, emotional, cognitive and motor development of the children are identified and supportive measures are carried to help their development. Some parents volunteer to connect the Play Hub to disadvantaged families. Their work has helped to build trust among local communities and has increased the parents’ attendance.
The Play Hub is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 13:00 to 16:00 hours.
The opening of the Play Hubs in Turkey has been made possible by Akromfed (Mediterranean Roma Associations Federation). For more information contact Yesim Yolcu.
Find out more about how TOY for Inclusion’s Play Hubs on toy4inclusion.eu.