Is to create in the next year, a collective of young mums in at least 2 countries, who through playful workshops are given an opportunity to co-create and invent hybrid toys for 3-6 year old's. These are toys that merge cultural heritage with the future of toys/digital elements.
To kick start this endeavor we (four young sparky mums/women) are planning to hold an inception workshop in Nairobi in January 2017. The workshop will weave together user centered design, play therapy and storytelling techniques in order to produce three prototype toys that we can then test in the ‘yummie mummie’ market. The prototypes will seek to address weaknesses in the existing toy market, such as:
- How can toys use the best of cultural/historical elements with a modern twist?
- How can future toys catalyze a strong bond between parent and child and in doing so generate the practice of care and empathy?
- How can they educate boys and girls about gender in a progressive way?
We are seeking your funds to help us pull off this inception workshop on a shoestring budget :)
Why is this important?
1) Young mothers across the globe need all the help and support they can get: for their children and themselves. Not just in terms of financial security, but also in terms of their own sense of personal development and fulfillment. And importantly, in challenging societies negative perception of them. Young mothers need a platform from which they can challenge stereotypical views of them as a ‘burden on society’, and present themselves, as they truly are: dynamic, powerful and creative.
2) Play is increasingly recognized as an important and vital part of any person’s development. We all learn skills such as problem solving, creativity, resilience, empathy and how to relate to others through play (see https://www.ted.com/playlists/383/the_importance_of_play). Play is increasingly recognized as an important element in the modern world for ALL. Some authors of play have claimed that the twenty first century “will be the century of play” (see Pat Kane’s The Play Ethic: A Manifesto for a different way of living). The twentieth century has been a period of labour/ work and the neo-liberal project, which has resulted in a grossly unequal world. In our small way, we believe in the power of play to create a more meaningful and equal existence for young women and their children in society.
3) Mothers should be the inventors, and not simply passive recipients, or consumers on behalf/ for their children. Toys are imbued with so much meaning – how children are gendered, how they should learn and what they should learn. Mothers have a right to be engaged in the process, and a right to be inventors helping shape social norms, and self-belief.
4) We are hoping that our collective will become an alternative pathway, part of the care economy not the worker bee one. In the long term, perhaps even a social venture based on values of dignity, equality and justice. We want to share and collaborate with other like-minded creative endeavors along the way, and that could be you!
We already have a fabulous team: two young feminists active in the NGO world, a young user centered design trainer (all based in Nairobi), and myself a child and youth rights fanatic with over 15 years’ experience.
We have started our research, drafted the workshop, reached out to participants, and are in the process of securing a playful venue. By January we will be ready for the inception workshop!
Over the course of 2017 the plan is in:
- January: learn from the 3 day Inception workshop (with ~10 young mums)
- February: share learning's with Kickstarter supporters, design full concept, and set up online community (using Mozilla foundation toolkit as a guide)
- March – May: test the prototypes, reach out to potential partners (toy manufacturers, funders, creatives), and refine
- June – August: plan for the second workshop
The funding goal:
To get the collective up and running we are hoping generous souls on kick starter can help us reach £1,600 for the inception workshop. Your funds will go towards materials to prototype (create model) toys, the trainer, transport costs, and refreshments for our young mums.
Things which we are not putting in this budget: accommodation (I’ll stay with a friend), and venue costs (likely to be a school).
Some of the mums waiting to be involved are:
Mary is 23 and unemployed. She is currently a stay at home mum with two children. She hopes to get work/ employment, and she wants to be a part of the collective "to learn something new".
Anne is 28 and a stay at home mum with two children. She hopes to start a business so that she can be self-reliant and her children can then go to college. She wants to participate so that she can "step out of her comfort zone and know the importance of toys in raising children."
We hope you can see the value of this collective :)
Risks and challenges
- Focus and quality of workshop: I have been involved in designing and running workshops for over 15 years. I am also supported by a design trainer and a colleague/friend who have ample experience in Nairobi and facilitating creative workshops.
- The young mums need to feel safe and comfortable to be creative: finalizing the venue is crucial; we are currently in discussions with a school.
- Expectations are vastly different: the workshop will start with clarifying everyone's expectations and collectively agreeing on the aims!
- (42 days)