COVID-19 has been tough on everyone all across the globe. In India, however, its most adversely-affected victims are the 385million+ extremely underserved and vulnerable children. Gripped with economic hardships, their mental and emotional well-being has also been compromised due to fear and anxiety, 120 million children are losing out on mid-day meals at schools and facing malnutrition, which hampers their cognitive development. Due to the prolonged lockdown, they are also experiencing learning losses. While only 24% households own smartphones, a meagre 11.5% have access to a computer and internet to support online learning. Furthermore, 24 million students may drop out of school due to economic fallout. The resultant learning gaps and loss of interest in studies need immediate mitigation.
Building their resilience and ensuring continued learning is more important now than it has ever been. COVID or no COVID, through our play methodologies, Toybank has always endeavored to keep them on track with their mental and emotional well-being, learning and holistic development. It’s no different during the pandemic. To alleviate our beneficiaries’ stress and anxiety during the pandemic, we instantaneously provided them meaningful engagement and mental stimulation through the digital model of our Play2Learn program — the Toybank PlayAtHome Kit.
Children need to make sense of upended routines, separation from peer groups, economic stresses at home and learning gaps. Toybank PlayAtHome Kit supports them by keeping their minds off the stresses and aligns with their academic curriculum by including activities based on History, Geography, Science, Environment, Word and Math puzzles. We are providing them accessible learning, safe spaces at home, staying active and reducing the severity of hardships. Apart from that, the activities also build their problem-solving skills, critical thinking, linguistic and numerical skills, shape and color recognition and more so that their development does not stop.
With a focus on building life skills, we are making children not only school-ready but also life-ready so that they may face any adversity with determination. As a lack of access to technology makes online learning a challenge for them, Toybank PlayAtHome activities require minimal supplies available at home rather than being dependent on the internet for long hours. Every day, we impact 50,116 children across Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Ladakh, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh through 2,051 teachers, 7,345 parents in 421 Support Groups (as of 5th November 2020) .
Experiences in the early years shape, and even define, what we become as adults. As children deal with double the stresses due to economic hardships along with the tough times of COVID-19, they need solid support to come out of the crisis unscathed so that they may lead a fulfilling life instead of being abandoned in their most difficult time.
As we endeavour to ensure happy childhoods like we always have, your support will bolster our efforts in providing mental relief and learning to our beneficiaries. After all, alone we can do so little but together we can do so much!