As Toybank is a voluntary driven organisation one of the important ways in which they recruit volunteers is through schools. Today. the 4th September 2017 (the first day of my internship) I attended an introductory session led by Toybank’s Volunteer Organiser Jatin, in which he educated a group of students from THINK Global School about the ethos and principles that underpin Toybank’s invaluable work.
THINK Global School is an international travelling high school where students from all over the world live in four different countries throughout the year allowing them to immerse themselves in new cultures. Throughout their time studying in India, Toybank provides these students with an opportunity to truly experience India and its culture by meeting locals and engaging with children less privileged than themselves. This is an experience that I have no doubt will play an insurmountable impact in shaping them as individuals, as I have no doubt my experiences at Toybank will shape me.
Today’s session with Toybank included students aged 16-18 from Australia and New Zealand to the USA, Poland and Guatemala -  just to name a few! From the outset the session was interactive, with Jatin asking the students to interpret what Frederick Douglass’ powerful quoteIt is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” meant to them. One student made an incredibly insightful comment, she used the analogy of a broken glass and argued that it is easier to prevent it from becoming broken in the first place than it is to fix it after. This to me summarises Toybank's work, if we educate under-privileged children through the medium of play we are helping to provide an opportunity for them achieve their potential.
Jatin emphasised to the students the role of play in impacting our lives and how it is integral in developing our physical, social and cognitive skills. It was at this point the students were asked to raise their hand if they believed play to be important – every single student raised their hand. One student Chloe asked an incredibly thought-provoking question, 'Why did you [Jatin] look so surprised when all of the students raised their hand?' It was Jatin’s response that made me think. He said that when he asks the same question to an Indian audience play was often not valued as highly. This points to the importance of Toybank’s Power of Play sessions, which teach individuals that play is a necessity for everybody, regardless of their background. This exchange made me appreciate and acknowledge how important Toybank are in challenging society’s perceptions of play.
After learning about Toybank’s aims and principles many students were excited at the prospect of using their own special skills to participate in future play sessions. Pablo from Barcelona was keen on organising outdoor activities such as basketball and football, whereas a number of female students expressed interest at playing with pre-primary children. One student from Poland was also interested in using his passion for website and app development whilst volunteering at Toybank.
It is clear from today’s session that Toybank places incredible importance in making sure that when students are involved in play sessions they are involved in activities that genuinely interest them. I think this is incredibly important for a volunteer driven organisation. After today’s session I cannot wait to visit and participate in a play session to see the incredible work Toybank do in action!
- Lucy Wray, UK Toybank Intern


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