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CCFC ambassador: toys are building blocks of development

In this second report of a three-part series, Sharon Caddy recalls her visit to our Learning-Through-Play project in Ethiopia

By Sharon Caddy, radio personality & CCFC ambassador

One of the most enjoyable days of my visit to Ethiopia came on the hot and sunny afternoon we experienced the Saving Brains project. I was reminded that, at our heart, we’re all the same.

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC), with the help of a local partner, launched Learning Through Play (LTP), a project developed by Toronto’s Hincks-Dellcrest Centre, a children’s mental-health treatment centre. Through this initiative, instructional videos and calendars guide parents to engage with their children through play. The adults build toys using materials readily available in the village, and the result is amazing.

I saw kids pulling toy trucks made with old water jugs; I saw a TV made from a cardboard box with a scroll of pictures rotated to represent different channels. And many of the kids made cellphones out of mud, painting them once they dried.

The greatest thing about seeing LTP in action was watching the children having fun with their parents and seeing the pride and joy on the adults’ faces. In a culture where fathers have traditionally been feared, a new generation is bonding with this new type of paternal figure. Better yet, men are learning the value of spending positive time with their children.

It will be wonderful to see what happens when this generation of children become parents themselves having grown up with the interaction they’re enjoying thanks to LTP.