Out of up-cycled materials, fashion design students create recycled educational toys for children in Anganwadis

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Out of up-cycled materials, fashion design students create recycled educational toys for children in Anganwadis

V Jana Rethika, a fashion design student, is overjoyed that an educational toy she produced has been given to an Anganwadi. “We are overjoyed that children can actually play with the toys we created,” she says.

As part of a project, Kalicheppu, second-year Apparel and Fashion Design Technology students at St Teresa’s College (Kochi) created educational toys out of recycled, eco-friendly, reusable, and upcycled materials (box of toys).

So, unused, discarded clothing, building materials, bags, and boxes were repurposed into 21 toys, which were given to an Anganwadi in Mattancherry by the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS).

Rethika made a twister and number train out of a plywood board left over from home construction, while Arpana N made a denim puzzle and tangram book. The class’s 28 students were instructed to make the toys as part of a graded activity, but they had no idea that the toys would be provided to children. “Everything we were told was that the best will be chosen and handed over; luckily, they all turned out to be so good,” Rethika says.

Design Thinking is a Fashion Design course that focuses on solving a design/product-related problem that society is facing and coming up with a viable solution. It is connected to the College’s outreach program.

“We found an issue with imported plastic toys made of toxic plastic and asked the students to come up with alternatives,” says Supriya Nair of the Fashion Design Department. The College collaborates with ICDS on Anganwadi teacher training and awareness programs, and handing over the toys was a natural extension of that collaboration.

After the class was split into four groups to pitch proposals, the project began in September 2020 over multiple video calls and meetings. “The brief teachers gave us was that while the toys had to be educational, they had to be child-safe in every sense,” Arpana says.

According to Lekha Sreenivas of the Women Studies Centre, which coordinates these events, the next phase of the project will teach Anganwadi teachers how to create these toys using materials available at the center.

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