In the Philippines, Children Learn With Paper Shoes

By Martin Nanawa, ChildFund Philippines

In this small agricultural village in Eastern Luzon, children below schooling age don’t own closed-toe shoes. In many low-income communities across the Philippines, pragmatism leads children to wear flip-flops, which are relatively inexpensive and remarkably durable. Even when their parents can afford a pair of shoes, children still go about their casual business in flip-flops, preserving their shoes for school, church or other formal occasions.

Many young people in this village, much like other parts of the country, will own their first pair of shoes only when they begin school, where shoes are part of the uniform.

Children attend preschool in the Philippines.

Children attend a Supervised Neighborhood Play program in the Philippines.

Nonetheless, on the porch of a small home in this village, children younger than 5 learn to tie their shoes long before they ever own any. These children attend a home-based Early Childhood Development (ECD) program ChildFund supports in areas unreached by government day care centers. Home-based ECD sites like this are known as Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP) centers, staffed by local volunteers. They are not professional day care workers or educators, but ChildFund trains them to be effective and innovative.

Innovate is just what Mabeth did. The SNP volunteer started with rolls of colored paper, felt markers and all the creativity she could pool together to make her front porch a learning environment for children. She hung paper cut-outs illustrating animals and objects that correspond to letters in the alphabet. In place of printed charts describing parts of the body, Mabeth’s front porch has hand-drawn illustrations. Mobiles hang from the ceiling describing different emotions children experience, such as happy, sad, and scared.

paper shoe with laces

A paper shoe helps children learn how to tie laces.

One cardboard box stores all the children’s shoes — shoes made from paper. They have a double-layer of colored paper for a sole and a loop of paper on top. Colored string is used for laces. “Poor children [in this neighborhood] often don’t have shoes, and I feel it’s important they learn to tie their laces like other children do,” Mabeth says.

Children at this SNP site may not yet own closed-toe shoes, but the innovation of ChildFund volunteers helps make sure they have many opportunities for development early in their childhood.

Children’s Toys Take the Spotlight at ChildFund Event

by Cynthia Price, Director of Communications

ChildFund's Power to Play exhibit at New World Stages runs through Sept. 6.

Toys made by children from around the world took center stage last night in New York City.

ChildFund’s toy exhibit “The Power to Play” opened last night at New World Stages, 340 West 50th St.

Time Out New York and NTDTV covered the opening reception. Donors from the New York area previewed the toys before the exhibit officially opened to the public.

Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund, told the audience, “Every show has a star, and the real stars tonight are the children who made the toys.

“The toys they made offer dramatic proof that – through it all – children can retain their sense of wonder, their desire to play, their indomitable spirit, and their ability to imagine and create…if they are given the support they need,” she continued.

Many of the toys on display tell compelling stories of the particular social, economic or political conditions present in the children’s home countries, while others reflect similarities across regions in type of play and crafting technique. Some children use twigs, plastic bags and string to make kites, cut open soda cans to fashion toy cars and bind dried banana leaves to bring dolls to life.

Among the guests at the opening reception was Dayton Carr, a long-time ChildFund supporter who sponsors two children and has funded a playground in Liberia and a program for disabled children in Belarus.

Mick Foley and his wife Collette attended. Mick, a former wrestler and now author and philanthropist, has funded eight schools in Sierra Leone and community centers in the Philippines and Mexico. He is currently funding a program to help former girl soldiers in Sierra Leone. He sponsors seven children.

ChildFund’s former board chairman Bill Leahey and his wife Chris also were in attendance. They sponsor four children and have funded a library in Ethiopia.

Irene Sanz and Maureen Massey admire the exhibit.

Long-time supporter Irene Sanz and ChildFund board member Maureen Massey and her husband Ivor spent some time reminiscing about their recent ChildFund study tour to Kenya.

Integrated Media Solutions, which sponsors 60 children, hosted the evening’s reception.

As part of the reception, guests were asked to contribute to the building of playgrounds in Afghanistan. An anonymous gift of $10,000 and several additional donations will be used to equip the playgrounds.

The toy exhibit continues through Sept. 6. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

With previous stops in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Boston and Atlanta, the toy collection will next head to Idaho in October.

Denver Sponsors Share Their ChildFund Stories

by Stephanie Phillips, ChildFund special assistant

It’s always inspiring to hear from ChildFund’s long-term supporters. At ChildFund’s Power to Play toy exhibit at the Denver Press Club, we were reminded once again of the rewards of child sponsorship.

Long-time sponsor Jean O'Toole

Long-time donor Jean O’Toole from Fort Collins, Colo., has sponsored 19 children through ChildFund for more than 40 years. She summed up what she thought being a supporter was all about: “I am everybody who sponsors a child. I am a small brick in the bottom row of the foundation of ChildFund International. Without the bottom row you couldn’t have the top of the pyramid,” O’Toole said.

She also shared photo albums and scrapbooks from her years of sponsoring children around the world. O’Toole has kept every letter and picture she has received from her sponsored children—including the original ad that sparked her interest in the organization 40 years ago.

Eric Seversen, another long-time sponsor from Boulder, performed his song, “Power to Play,” which he wrote to complement ChildFund’s Power to Play video featuring children constructing toys for the exhibit.

Eric Seversen performs.

Seversen’s song is written as if though the eyes of the children who made the toys: All I have known is poverty and fear, but I could be a pilot, or a teacher or engineer! The power to play…

As Seversen’s song ended, all eyes glanced over at the toys on the exhibit tables. Everyone knew that the children who had made the toys face the hardship of poverty every day. Children used their resilience and creativity to make toys to entertain themselves, develop their skills and persevere through life.

The Power of Play exhibit acknowledges children’s struggle and celebrates their achievements.

ChildFund’s Power to Play Exhibit Visits Denver

by Stephanie Phillips, ChildFund special assistant

The dim evening light filters through the windows of the Denver Press Club spotlighting the tables of toys. These aren’t ordinary toys found in local toy shops—these are unique toys constructed of recycled materials, made by the hands of children from around the world.

Hand-made toys reflect children's innovation.

ChildFund International’s traveling toy exhibit, the Power to Play, made a stop at the Denver press club last week. The exhibit was not only an opportunity for donors in the Denver area to view the toys but also to gather and celebrate their commitment to ChildFund. Many of the donors attending the reception have been sponsoring children for more than 30 years.

As attendees walked around the room, they marveled not only at the ingenuity and creativity the children used to craft the toys but also at the materials they used. All of the toys in the Power to Play exhibit are made from materials people throw away on a daily basis—plastic bags, tin cans, scrap wood and empty containers.

“We want as many people as possible to see this exhibit, because it is not an ordinary exhibit—it is extraordinary because kids have made these toys with their own hands. I call them the original environmentalists,” said ChildFund International President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard, who greeted donors at the event.

Donors meet with Anne Lynam Goddard.

Athena Boulgarides, Regional Development Officer for ChildFund, explained how play helps children’s development. “Play is an astonishing gift that children give themselves,” she said. “Through play they solve problems and test new ideas. Play is the key to the future of their psychosocial development, emotional development—and honoring that is a gift.”

To the Beat of a Different Drum

By ChildFund Sri Lanka Staff

31 in 31He runs to his mother and father returning from the paddy fields and clutches their hands. The toy drum hangs from his neck. His energy and smiley face soon fade away the tired look on his parents’ faces. He starts to beat the drum and sing a song bringing a new life into the tired parents. He is Kolitha, a 4-year-old boy who lives in a remote village in Anuradhapura district of Sri Lanka, the next stop of our “31 in 31” blog series.

Sri Lanka, a country we have worked in since 1985, is a war-torn country where good news can be tough to find. This, however, is a story we have shared with visitors to our traveling toy exhibit, “The Power to Play – from Trash to Treasure.”

Kolitha (in the light blue) and his friends sing songs and beat their drums in Sri Lanka.

Kolitha (in the light blue) and his friends sing songs and beat their drums in Sri Lanka.

Kolitha’s parents are farmers working in paddy cultivation. The income they earn from farming is very low. This makes it hard for them meeting the needs of the family. They can provide their children only with basic necessities. So Kolitha and his sister always make improvised toys and sports equipments when it comes to play.

With a born enthusiasm to explore things, Kolitha is always a busy child. He loves to play with the children in his village. He loves to sing songs with his friends. Kolitha attends an education center in the village supported by the ChildFund project. The teacher at the center describes Kolitha as a very enthusiastic and creative child. She says that he actively participates in singing, dancing and other group activities at the center.

Kolitha’s inspiration for his bamboo drum came from attending his sister’s dancing class conducted by the project. One day, Kolitha came with his mother to watch his sister dancing. The drum played at the class impressed him so much that he first started to beat at the table when he went home. Then he started to try to make a drum that looked like the one at the dancing class. He had heard about bamboo drums at the education center. He pestered his tired father to accompany him to the stream where bamboo trees grow and brought home a piece of bamboo.

At home, his sister dances to songs he sings beating the drum. His parents also join the children clapping to songs. Kolitha takes the drum with him when he visits his friends. They sit under the shade of a tree and sing songs until their parents start coming looking for them. The bamboo drum that Kolitha made has attracted his friends to make their own drums. Kolitha has helped his friends in this and each of them has one now. He says happily that he wants to be a musician one day.

For more information about our work in Sri Lanka, click here. To read more stories involving “The Power to Play,” click here.

More on Sri Lanka
Population: 21.3 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 750,000 children and families
Did You Know?: Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of rubber. The rubber industry took hold in the country in the late 1800s, when the island was known as Ceylon and was ruled by the British.

Meet Ardyan — Kite Maker Extraordinaire

By David Hylton
Public Relations Specialist

31 in 31On the next stop in our “31 in 31” series, we visit Indonesia, a country comprised of many islands with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. ChildFund International has worked in this country since 1958, with a big focus on education. We have built preschools, provided educational tools, trained teachers and counseled parents on the importance of beginning the learning process early for their children.

Today we meet Ardyan, a 12-year-old boy who has a passion for kites. One common theme found in all the countries we work in is children’s love for play. And that love can be found in ChildFund’s traveling toy exhibit, “The Power to Play – from Trash to Treasure.” The exhibit includes toys such as Ardyan’s kite, which was creatively fashioned from castoff items.

Ardyan, from Indonesia, is all smiles with the kite he made.

Ardyan, from Indonesia, is all smiles with the kite he made.

Ardyan, who is an only child, eagerly provides the details on what is needed to make a good kite: bamboo, thin paper, glue, a knife, string or thread and coloring items. Ardyan has also developed specific instructions for kitemaking:

1. Cut two pieces of bamboo of the same length to make two sticks one-half inch wide. Smooth with sandpaper.
2. Mark a point that is one-third the length of the first stick and at the center of the second stick. Tie the sticks together at the cross section.
3. Tie the string or thread at the four edges.
4. Spread some glue on the thread and the sticks.
5. Place a thin paper on the frame and set it correctly.
6. Cut the paper based on the pattern.
7. Apply some glue at the border of the paper.
8. Insert a string at the middle and bottom of the kite.
9. Adjust the string according to the right measure.
10. Color the kite as per choice.

Last, but not least, on a breezy day (of which there are many in Indonesia), grab a group of friends and go fly the kite.

For more information on Indonesia, click here. For more details about ChildFund’s traveling toy exhibit, which is currently at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, click here. There you’ll find even more stories about toys from Indonesia.

More on Indonesia
Population: 240 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 312,000 children and families
Did You Know?: Indonesia is known for Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world according to Forbes.

Next in our “31 in 31” series: We head to Mozambique.

Toys Take the Spotlight in L.A.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off the opening of "The Power to Play" at the Museum of Tolerance.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off the opening of "The Power to Play" at the Museum of Tolerance.

By Cynthia Price,
Director of Communications

Shauntay Hinton helps a girl with a toy at the opening of "The Power to Play" in Los Angeles.

Shauntay Hinton helps a girl with a toy at the opening of "The Power to Play" in Los Angeles.

ChildFund International opened its exhibit of toys “The Power to Play – from Trash to Treasure” at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles on Sunday. ChildFund President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard and former sponsored child Shauntay Hinton spoke at the standing-room only event.

Children learned first hand how to make hand made toys using some of the same materials that children in ChildFund programs use to make toys.

Shauntay, a former Miss USA and now a host on the Fine Living Channel, spoke about how ChildFund allowed her to gain confidence. Anne spoke about the resiliency of children.

The exhibit runs through Dec. 31. If you live in the L.A. area or will be visiting the area before the end of the year, please stop by the Museum of Tolerance to visit “The Power to Play.”

Related Posts:
* From Mississippi to L.A.: Former Miss USA Tells Her ChildFund Story
* The Power to Play opens in Washington, D.C.
* Toys, Toys and More Toys!

The Toys Head West

By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist

From Richmond to Boston to Washington, D.C., our traveling toy exhibit – “The Power to Play – from Trash to Treasure” – has been seen by thousands of people on the East Coast. Now it’s time to move west.

These toys from "The Power to Play - from Trash to Treasure" were on display in August at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. They are now headed to Los Angeles.

These toys from "The Power to Play - from Trash to Treasure" were on display in August at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. They are now headed to Los Angeles.

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 13, West Coast residents and visitors to Los Angeles will get to see our display of hand-crafted toys at the Museum of Tolerance. The exhibit will remain there through the end of the year.

The toys were made by children around the world in the countries in which ChildFund International works. Toys range from soccer balls made out of rubber bands and trash bags to dolls made out of banana bark to boats made out of old flip-flops.

ChildFund International President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard and MOT Director
Liebe Geft will launch the toy exhibit with a ribbon cutting at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 13. They will be joined by Shauntay Hinton, former Miss USA and ChildFund International sponsored child, who will share her inspiring journey.

“We are sharing this toy collection as a visible demonstration of how the power to play helps children thrive and become leaders of enduring change in their communities and the world,” Anne says.

On opening day, the museum will hold workshops for children to create toys made from recycled materials donated by a local “green” toy company.

So if you’ll be in the area that day or anytime through Dec. 31, check out the Museum of Tolerance at 9786 W. Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles.

What to know more about the toys?
* Our latest news release
* “The Power to Play” Opens in Washington, D.C.
* Toys Head to the National Press Club
* Toys, Toys and More Toys!
* RANDOM ACTS (Washington Times)
* Helen Thomas attends ChildFund toy exhibit (UPI)
* YouTube
* Facebook

“The Power to Play” Opens in Washington, D.C.

The Display at the National Press Club

By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist

For ChildFund International, our toy exhibit – “The Power to Play – from Trash to Treasure” – is more than just a display of creative toys. It embodies the essential qualities of children, qualities that have been the foundation of our work for 70 years.

On Aug. 6, our traveling toy exhibit was officially launched at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Joining ChildFund President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard in the celebration were Helen Thomas, dean of the White House Press Corps and renowned journalist, and Myron Belkind, chair of the International Correspondents Committee of the National Press Club.

Here are highlights from the celebration:

Toys at the National Press Club

More toys at the National Press Club

For additional photos, visit our Facebook page at

Take a listen below as Anne Goddard discusses the toy exhibit with WTOP, a top radio station in Washington, D.C.

Toys Head to the National Press Club

By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist

“Whether creating a toy boat from an old flip flop, a doll from banana bark or a truck from an empty spray can, children have a remarkable power to play,” says ChildFund International President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard. Toy Truck

That remarkable power Anne speaks of will be on display from Aug. 3-28 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., as our toy exhibit, “The Power to Play – from Trash to Treasure,” is showcased. The National Press Club’s International Correspondents Committee and ChildFund International will host a special event from 3-5 p.m. Aug. 6 to showcase the exhibit.

Renowned journalist Helen Thomas will introduce Anne, who will speak on the toy exhibit and ChildFund’s work with deprived, excluded and vulnerable children around the world.

“These are children who have experienced all the grinding burdens the developing world can inflict on childhood – famine, war, poverty, sickness,” Anne says of the children who made the toys. “But the toys they made offer dramatic proof that – through it all – children can retain their sense of wonder, their desire to play, their indomitable spirit, and their ability to imagine and create … if they are given the support they need.”

For more information about the toys, visit For more on the National Press Club, visit The National Press Club is at 529 14th St. NW; the Aug. 6 event is open to the public.

Coming later this week: I head to Washington, D.C., to give you an inside look at the National Press Club event.

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