About

ChildsPlay International is a not-for-profit organization made up of like-minded people committed to bringing play into the lives that need it most, and have it least. This includes children living in refugee status, homeless, street children and others who can benefit.

Play is central to the normal and healthy development of any child — physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Story Telling

Encourage cultural recovery of local communities through story telling and the arts.

Self Expression

Give participants a stronger sense of their own abilities in athletics and self-expression in the arts.

Games and Play

 Engage with children at risk, by encouraging their own personalities and hope for the future.

Documentation

To make children visible to a wider public through filming them and creating documentaries.

Our Story

ChildsPlay International is a not-for-profit organization made up of like-minded people committed to bringing play into the lives that need it most, and have it least. This includes children living in refugee status, homeless, street children and others who can benefit.

The mission of ChildsPlay International is to create activities, and participate in endeavors that serve its vision, all over the world.

Part of that mission is to help other organizations, individuals, and like-minded folk carry the work forward through interaction, dialogue, mentorship, sharing and collaboration.

“Play” is at the center of our name, and it is the key to our mission.

Play provides the invisible international infrastructure of childhood.  It promotes social development, imagination, healthy bodies and self-esteem.

Objectives

  • To create a model for engaging with children at risk, by encouraging their own personalities and hope for the future.
  • To replicate The Festival of Games and Imagination (The Festival) in many settings in which children can benefit.
  • To encourage cultural recovery of local communities.
  • To link with like-minded organizations, operating in a concerted collaboration to enhance the lives of children through play and imagination.
  • To give the participants a stronger sense of their own abilities in athletics and self-expression in the arts and encourage feelings of self-worth.
  • To create ways for children to make bonds with adults and elders by learning from them about specific skills (from art and music to athletics and games) and to learn about and appreciate the history of their local culture.
  • To broaden the participants’ awareness of what is possible in athletic and self-expressive activities of childhood, and long-term, to foster a greater sense of hope.
  • To assess the impact on children, due to their participation. This includes the effect on specific skills, the effect on psychological development, and the effect on psycho-social relations within their community.
  • To give the participants recognition among their peers and their families.
  • To make these children visible to a wider public through filming them and creating documentaries. This will result in a full-length film, as well as short trailers, available on DVD and on the internet, to be used to encourage replication of The Festivals in other countries.

Our Projects

Our projects are not one size fits all, but tailored to reflect local circumstances.

For example:

    • Our work in the Jalozai Camp of over 100,000 displaced people in North West Pakistan was specifically directed to healing trauma, identifying the children most at risk and making them the center of organized games and creativity. Go to Pakistan project
    • In Haiti we focused on making masks and learning dance, two aspects that are central to the country’s Carnival culture. Go to Haiti project
    • In the village of Osiem, Ghana we brought together different schools in local villages, for competitive exercises that were athletic, intellectual, and performance. Go to Ghana project
    • In Kenya we focused on bringing play to HIV orphans who frequently spent their non-school hours working in underground mines. We also introduced story-telling circles and trained selected children in using video to document their own community. Go to Kenya project
    • In our upcoming project in Peru, we will focus on passing down the oral story-telling tradition from elders to the youngest generation, thereby preserving Inca culture, which will find a way into Peruvian schools. Go to Peru project
    • In Manipur, India we focused on indigenous play and festivity in a region that has remained relatively unaffected by international trends.  Go to Manipur project

Our Team

Dr. Steven Watson is a cultural historian and film-maker who is interested in international projects involving children and play in many countries. He has created a library in Ghana, among other things. He is primarily an executive director of key people in this project.

Sarwar Mushtaq is a film-maker and CEO of Eckova Productions. He has filmed and co-produced many humanitarian films in Pakistan, in conjunction with Denise Davies, including a relevant film about Special Olympics in Pakistan. Sarwar has organized and led the “Filmmaking for Social Change” in 2009 and 2010 in Pakistan for training young filmmakers in documentary film production. Sarwar is a founding member of Special Olympics Pakistan and has organized and conducted several regional and National Games as well as taken two separate delegations of Special Athletes to participate in the International games in Minneapolis and New Haven.

Denise Davies is a Canadian and international consultant working with nonprofit organizations developing film concepts, distribution planning, media strategies. She has directed films and developed scripts for films in Pakistan, USA and Canada. Denise offers seminars and workshops on film planning, video training, using films for Advocacy, and other Internet and media topics for Coady International Institute, Filmmaking for Social Change, Karachi University and others.

Advisory Board

Laura Russell: Born and raised in the United States, Laura Russell has spent the last 25 years primarily in the Cusco region of Peru. She is an artist and a teacher, and uses art processes to develop an all-encompassing culturally pertinent educational methodology for rural indigenous schools. She founded Ayllu Yupaychay, a Peruvian non-profit NGO, in 1993 and she founded the Museo Irqi Yachay in Cusco in 1999, showcasing rural Andean children’s art from the Cusco region.

Belinda Nicholson: Belinda Nicholson is the product of a multinational background and education; and professionally seeks to reap its infinite possibilities.  She was born in London to a Swedish mother and Guyanese father, raised in the Caribbean, educated in the United States and calls New York City home. After receiving her BA and MA in International Development and Social Change, Belinda moved to Boston and pursued a career in teaching. She is currently the Middle Division Director (grades 6 through 8) for The School at Columbia University.  Her primary interests are in educational equity, empowering individual voice in the identity development of adolescents and teens, and promoting the crucial role of play, and self-realization through storytelling.

Anokhi Parikh has grown up in Mumbai, India. She has an MSc in Finance from Manchester Business School and PhD in Economics.  Anokhi spent a few years working on the corporate side with a focus on finance and economics before she switched to working on social development. She was drawn to the social sector early in her teens. Currently, the Director at The Foundation, she has a special interest in working with children from conflict zones and has lived in Manipur and Kashmir. She loves writing, travelling and poetry.