Play2Smile Games Distribution: Healing, mental well-being, and resilience through Play

While children are innately resilient, coping with ailments usually takes a toll on their mental well-being. Now, COVID-19 has added to their woes. With the outbreak of the pandemic, we had to halt games replacement and restocking—usually conducted every quarter—at our partner hospitals of the Toybank Play2Smile Program. Though, early this year, when the hospital staff reached out to us with their requirement for games for the children’s OPD, we instantly swung into action. 

Right before the second wave of the pandemic hit India, in March and April, with our partner Cipla Foundation's support, Team Toybank distributed 1,095 games to Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital and SRCC in Mumbai, and Bharti Hospital, Sasoon Hospital, Indrayani Hospital, and CPC Center in Pune. While distributions typically take place at Play2Learn Centers, during the recent visit, children at these hospitals went home with craft and art games as keepsakes, to continue staying engaged.

Curating play for every child’s needs

Every child or group of children has unique needs. The games for distribution are as meticulously curated as they are for our Play2Learn Centers. For instance, we provided wooden toys as they are handier, durable, and harmless, and games that promote audiovisual sensory to the physiotherapy ward. Mosaic Fun with small pieces that need to be inserted into slots thereby developing children’s fine and gross motor skills, was provided to the palliative care ward.


Planning during a Pandemic

Distributing the games was immensely gratifying for the team. Everything was carefully planned from the coordination, logistics, and management following utmost hygiene and safety measures for the children and the team. While it made things more arduous, the team took it in their stride and put their best foot forward. It was no less than all hands on deck as the leadership, management, inventory and the program teams charted out the nitty-gritty to ensure the games reached the children. 
“This was an out-of-the-ordinary project for us because we gave children games to take away. The planning was a lot of hard work but an amazing experience. The inventory team sorted, mapped, and catalogued 5,000 games. We had to be mindful of the games we were giving, keeping children’s vulnerability to infections in mind. Besides, we only wanted to give them games that would meaningfully engage them"
 
—Rashmin Shaikh, Toybank Program Officer
Relieving stress for the staff, children, and caregivers 
Despite the Play2Smile Center at the hospital, COVID has been making children, their caregivers, and the hospital staff anxious about contracting the virus. Hence, these spaces are almost always deserted. Seeing children at her hospital playing carefree after a long time, Dr. Bela from SRCC messaged us saying, “Thanks for the craft kits. The kids are really happy.”


Apart from expressing themselves, children stay engaged independently and feel secure as their parents are busy with the doctors and formalities. They also derive joy from the pop of their favorite colors in the dreary milieu.

A photograph speaks a thousand words and the images of children playing and smiling at the hospital filled the team with happiness. The wide-eyed wonder and the broad smiles on being able to play when they receive the games is the greatest reward for us.

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