Despite the challenges of COVID-19, 10 Chinese factories in the ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP) are implementing the Family-Friendly Spaces (FFS) program this summer. FFS aims to provide secure and well-equipped spaces at factories for children to learn and play while their parents work. By embracing this program during these challenging times, these factories are showing themselves to be supportive, caring, and family-friendly employers.
6 of these factories have previously opened the spaces before and have chosen to continue their support to parent workers as they have seen the many benefits FFS has brought. The remaining 4 toy factories are new to the program, they are all demonstrating a commitment to worker well-being.
Take a look at some of the activities going on at Family-Friendly Spaces over the course of this summer.
Before the spaces open:
New factories, IETP, and our implementation partner CCRCSR have gone through the steps below to build factories' knowledge on how to run the FFS program and transform spaces into safe, colorful, and fun activity areas for children.
Week 1 – Exciting kick-off
This is the most exciting week for parent workers, children, and factories. Especially for the four new factories as they are going to put what they have learned during the training into practice. For the children, who would be visiting the workplace of their parents for the first time, and parent workers who have not seen their children for a long while - the reunion begins.
Parents workers used to worry about not able to mentor their children with schoolwork, FFS not only keeps their children safe but also puts them at ease. To meet the education and development needs of elder children, there is study time. Schoolwork discussion between children is a great way to build confidence and interpersonal communication skills.
As for the younger children who might need time to adapt to the new environment, they are having fun with the ice-breaker games and enjoying afternoon tea with new friends.
Week 2 – Making the factory a home away from home
A participating factory welcomes a 2-year-old girl in the second week of the FFS program.
This little girl’s grandma has been working in the factory for seven years. Her family wishes she could quit the job to look after the little granddaughter; however, she is keen to continue with her job. After learning the situation, and considering the child’s safety and worker’s concerns, the factory welcomes the little girl to join the FFS program.
With child-care support provided by the teachers and the playtime with other children, FFS provides a safe and decent environment to help her fit in with her peers. Meanwhile, the grandma also introduced her son and daughter-in-law to work in the factory because of this caring arrangement.
What's exciting is that FFS seems to be a benefit offers to workers, in fact, it can increase workers’ sense of belonging to the factory, as a result, reduces the turnover rate and attract new workers. Some workers even introduce their families to join the factory because of the FFS program. Apart from their hometowns, workers can reunite with the family at the factory, making the factory a home away from home.
Great Support from Toy Brands
This year's FFS project is very honored to receive gift sponsorships from Crayola, Disney, Hallmark, Hape, LEGO®, and Mattel. Since their parents spend so much of their time away for work, these blocks, dolls, and painting sets may be the first toys these children have received in their lives. The children couldn’t wait to start building, dressing up the dolls, and drawing colorful pictures. The room was filled with laughter, children were busy asking teachers their opinions and showing their creative designs to their new friends.
Once again, we would like to thank the gift sponsors. Their generosity enriches the children's summer vacation, and the toys and educational products provide opportunities for the children to play with others, as well as learn to share and communicate.
Meanwhile, some factories have suspended this year’s FFS program due to the pandemic, which means some children could not join their parents and peers through the program again during this summer holiday. After learning the news, Crayola, Hallmark and LEGO® have generously sent nearly 3,000 gifts including blocks and drawing kits to these children to spice up their holiday even they have to stay home.
With the generous gift sponsorship and strong support, these children are warm by the love and care from these toy brands. They can still let their creative flow with their coloring pens and blocks during their stay-at-home summer vocation.
Look at the photos below, their big smiles simply show the excitement and happiness from the nice surprise of gifts.
Week 3 – Learning Beyond the Textbook
A factory showed what is it like to be innovative – they have invented a new kind of popcorn machine. Unlike the ordinary one, this one is mostly transparent to show the magical moments after adding the ingredients. A joyful way to learn the science of food transformation.
Another factory took the children out to plant trees on a sunny day. Children got to enjoy the outdoors and learn about different types of plants and the benefits they bring. What made the children so proud was that they could put their names on the tree they planted.
Representatives from our gift sponsors LEGO and Hallmark visited the FFS sites this week, they brought along gifts with them and spent time playing with the children.
FFS is more than a child-care facility for parent workers, in addition to classroom learning, children have the opportunities to gain valuable knowledge beyond the textbook and enjoy a fulfilling summer vacation.
Week 4 – Family Fun on the Farm
The weather this week was nice and sunny, and many factories took advantage of the good weather to arrange outdoor activities for children. One of the factories organized a family fun day to a farm which allowed parent workers to enjoy the sunshine with their children.
There were various activities on the farm. Parents were trying the whole bag of tricks to complete different kinds of parent-child challenges with their kids. With the coach’s guidance and parents' encouragement, the children bravely took up the challenging games such as river crossing and rock climbing. The highlight of the day was the long-awaited bubble battle. Children ran in the bubble pool and enjoyed the wonderful moment of being surrounded by the bubbles. They made everyone laugh when their faces were joyfully covered with foam.
This was a meaningful outdoor parent-child day out. Children were able to experience something they have never tried before while it could also strengthen parent-child bonds and interaction.
Week 5: Family-Friendly Spaces 2020 comes to a close after a successful summer
Time flies especially when we are having fun! This week meant the last day of the FFS program where factories were busy organizing the farewell ceremonies for the children. Some factories sent their children off with gourmet parties while some other arranged grand closing ceremonies. The children were so thrilled as these events gave them a chance to show their parents the songs and dances they learned during their summer holiday here at the spaces.
The children have tried out new things and met lots of new friends through the program. With the teachers’ guidance and various lessons, we can see positive changes in the children’s behavior. Those children who were relatively shy have become more cheerful and always have a smile on their face, meanwhile, those who have been more introverted have gradually enjoyed the joy of sharing with their peers. The parents were all very pleased with the changes their children have made in this short summer vacation.
Following the closing ceremonies, the children have returned to their home cities. They all left with a smile because they are looking forward to meeting again through the program next year.
We would like to thank you everyone for their contribution to the Family-Friendly Spaces program 2020, our best wishes to these lovely children.
How you can support the programs
Our booklet 'Best for Workers' outlines how our worker well-being program can support parent workers at the factories. Download to find out more about how the programs work, the benefits they deliver, and how you can get involved. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.