General Objectives of the Toy Library Team
Our work philosophy involves training sessions of participants working directly with children and young people (e.g., education professionals, other professionals and families) especially in the first axis. On the other hand, the second axis should translate the systematic monitoring of the professionals who develop their work in different recreational spaces with which we collaborate.
We also develop and tailor specific toy libraries activities with children and youth. In 2019 we started the project “Escolas de (e a) Brincar” where we involve the entire school community (teaching and non-teaching staff, students and families).
In the same year the IAC was established (1983), the Toy Library Activity team was set up, aiming to advocate the child’s Right to Play.
This was one of the first projects to come to life, which shows that the guarantee of this right was a concern from the beginning with the IAC to reiterate the position of one of its international partners – the International Play Association – that “play, together with the basic needs of nutrition, health, housing and education, in addition to Love and Affection, is a fundamental activity for the development of all children”.
At the end of the 1980s, internationally inspired toy libraries began to emerge in Portugal as a community and integration resource for children in different contexts. By way of curiosity, the first toy library in Portugal dates back to 1979 – in Évora. One of the first toy libraries in the Lisbon region, was created in the 1990s in Almoçageme to support refugee children from Bosnia, has proved essential to overcoming the trauma.
By that time, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation ran a library network and the IAC benefited from a partnership, since some of our founding members were active in the Foundation, namely Natália Pais, responsible for the creation of our team. It was also possible to bring in some experts from other countries which led to the creation of a network and a training programme in this field, complementary to the basic training of many education professionals. Training has been a constant work over these years, as well as technical support for the creation of new playspaces in different contexts (e.g. local communities, hospitals, schools, among others).
The work carried out by the ludic activity team was not limited to the numerous activities taking place in Portugal and so the role at international level has been very expressive with the inclusion of Portugal in the Direction of the International Association of Toy Libraries (ITLA) with the appointment to coordinate ITLA’s World Play Day, along with the participation in the coordinating group of the European Toy Libraries and, more recently, with the initiative to create the Portuguese branch of the IPA (International Play Association) together with the Faculty of Human Motricity and education professionals, among others.
At the present, the ludic sector in general faces other challenges due to the lack of recognition of this right at the global level. That is why the celebration of World Play Day (May 28) is one of the activities where we have been promoting the most in recent years, as a way to raise awareness of the right to play and draw attention to the need to promote a more playful society.
Currently, we provide training and consulting to education professionals. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning to highlight the partnerships with several municipalities that include toy libraries in their educational policies: the importance of awareness-raising regarding play in the development of children, mainly with parents, education professionals (teachers and non-teachers) and even with students, through partnerships with certain universities in the field of education. The concept of full-time school came to make life easier for parents, but it brought to light the number of hours that children spend at school. As much as the recommendations of the Ministry of Education for Enrichment Activities defend the playful nature of these activities, the search for school success influences the services for an ever-greater schooling of all activities. One of our most recent interventions was working on playgrounds in schools, with the collaboration of children, families and professionals, enhancing children’s playful opportunities in the 1st Cycle of Basic Education in order to contribute to their overall development and to the safeguarding of one of their fundamental rights.