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Flourishing through play

CCFC’s CEO experiences the power of a simple homemade toy while visiting program areas in Ethiopia

By Mark Lukowski
CEO, CCFC

Imagine your children didn’t have any toys. It’s tough, isn’t it? Sadly, in Arsi Negele District, Ethiopia some babies and toddlers don’t have a single toy — not one. In fact, such play things have never been part of the culture. I experienced this first-hand while visiting a Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC)-supported community this week.

I saw how CCFC is making a difference through our Learning Through Play project, which is showing parents the importance of interacting with their children (aged 0-3) to support healthy development. The adults are constructing educational toys — such as cars and mixing bowls — from old plastic bottles and empty cartons. These handmade trinkets are giving children information about what they see on the road and in the kitchen at home, while nurturing their development. The men are especially enthusiastic about building the toys and becoming more involved in their children’s lives.

I was delighted to see how this program, built on simple concepts, is having such a positive impact on young children. What’s more, it’s empowering parents who believe the change they’ve implemented will be sustainable, helping future generations achieve their full potential.

There’s so much we take for granted in Canada, even toys, which have value and can really help children get a better start in life. Seeing the impact of simple homemade toys on the lives of babies and toddlers was a real learning!

Photo by Philip Maher