Running to promote play

All roads led to Metro Cinema as Toybank participated in the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2020, like we have been for almost a decade now. The vibrant marathon was a great way to kick-start the year! While it rejuvenates each one of us to put our best foot forward out on the track, it is also a brilliant motivation to start the year off well in all areas of our lives. Alongside this, what energized us more was spotting fellow marathoners, all gung-ho to run for social causes that require more visibility.

The Fort area in South Bombay turned into a gigantic race track with Mumbaikars. The morning began with introductions and an induction to Toybank's work and how we aim to promote that through our costumes in the Dream Run. We encouraged all our 64 runners to spread the message of Play's benefits for every child, and also to have a great, enthusiastic parade. This year, our costumes represented the games from our Play Centers and the skills that each of these games build in children. We reinforced the need to integrate play effectively and with a mindful approach centered around understanding play and its impact on a child’s mental and behavioural well-being.

This year, for the first time, Toybank was represented in the Corporate Challenge category by Bain Capital. The team ran in three different categories on the race day, i.e. Half Marathon, 10K Race and the Dream Run. Alongside them, our CAS kids ran with Team Toybank in the Dream Run, singing the message of Play out to everyone around.

While the marathon was in January, preps for this started in mid-December, where volunteers brainstormed and created costumes with us every Saturday. We created costumes of games like Tangram, Mosaic Fun, Shadow Match, Mechanix and more. Along with each costume, were headbands that highlighted the skills and benefits these games bring about. For instance, Tangram nudges creativity in kids, prompting them to try new shapes and designs with basic geometric ones. Mosaic Fun, on the other hand, with its tiny pegs, helps in enhancing fine motor skills. With each design needing mindful calculation and coordination, it also develops a sense of patience in them.

16 dedicated volunteers put their creative hands to work, and helped us get all the costumes ready well before the race day. We had placards calling out slogans of Play, promoting awareness about the gap in mental health treatment and policies our country faces and how its citizens, especially at-risk children face mental health concerns that affect their development in the long run.

During the Dream Run we encountered two different scenarios that taught us something extremely important. One, where we met a family of four — including two kids under the age of 10 — that reiterated how important it is to spend time with our kids in the initial years of their upbringing. It guides the hobbies and choices they will make in their future life. Joining their parents for the run, gives them an example of the kinds of individuals they should be and the causes they can support. We also met Praful Dalal, an 82-year-old Marathon veteran for the past 14 years. All the bibs of his past races were attached to his costume. Hats off to his constant dedication which inspired us that you can be active and explore new opportunities at any given time, regardless of your age.

At the end of it all, our feet were tired but not our spirits. Everyone bid each other goodbye with the promise to run again next year and continue supporting many more causes!


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