Kerala college students make educational toys out of up-cycled material, donate them to anganwadi

Fashion design students make reusable educational toys for children in anganwadis, out of up-cycled material

Fashion design student V Jana Rethika cannot get over the excitement that an educational toy she made was handed over to an anganwadi. “We are so very happy that children are actually going to play with toys we made,” she says.

The second year Apparel and Fashion Design Technology student of St Teresa’s College (Kochi) made educational toys out of sustainable, eco-friendly, reusable and upcycled materials, as part of a project, Kalicheppu (box of toys). So, unused, discarded clothes, building material, bags, and boxes found another life as 21 toys, which were handed over to Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) authorities, to be given to an anganwadi in Mattancherry.

While Rethika used a plywood board, leftover from construction at home, to make a twister and number train, her classmate Arpana N made a denim puzzle and tangram book. The 28 students of the class were told to make the toys as part of their graded activity; they did not expect the toys to be given to children. “All we were told was that the best would be selected to be handed over, fortunately all turned out so good that they were all given,” Rethika says.

Design Thinking, a subject on the Fashion Design curriculum, targets addressing a design/product-related issue society faces and finding a workable solution. It links up with the outreach project of the College. .

“Imported plastic toys made of toxic plastic was the problem we identified and wanted the students to come up with alternatives,” says Supriya Nair of the Fashion Design Department. The College works with ICDS for training and awareness programmes for anganwadi teachers, handing over the toys was an extension of that engagement.

The project was initiated in September 2020, over several video calls and meetings, after the class was divided into four groups to pitch ideas. The teachers guided the students through their ideas, “The brief teachers gave us was that while the toys were educational, they had to be child-safe in every sense,” says Arpana.

As the next part of the project, anganwadi teachers would be taught to make these toys from materials available at the centre, says Lekha Sreenivas, of the Women Studies Centre which coordinates these activities.

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