Since 2016, the City of Sisak is implementing the ”Colourful inclusion of Sisak“ project – it is a range of programmes focused on children from vulnerable groups to help their integration into the community in which they live. Through the ‘Colourful Inclusion of Sisak’ project, the City of Sisak recognises the need to invest in sustainable quality programmes and services for preschool children and primary school-age children and their families. These programmes have a positive impact on all children, especially those growing up with disadvantages or poverty risks.
One of the greatest values of ‘Colourful Inclusion of Sisak’ is that it connects parents, kindergartens, schools, city institutions, minority community, civil society associations and experts.
The ‘Sisak Colorful Inclusion’, organised in partnership with the Open Academy Step by Step Croatia, participated also in an international project funded by the European commission, ‘TOY for inclusion’, thanks to which Sisak launched in January 2018 a “Play Hub and a Toy Library”. From 2020, the City of Sisak took over the financial sustainability of the Play Hub and Toy Library.
Play Hub and the Toy Library are free of charge (without a membership fee) and they are innovative informal ways to support children and their families. This initiative enables intergenerational learning, social cohesion among children and among adults and informal encounters between family members and professionals. The Play hub prepares the community to welcome children by implementing cross-sectoral cooperation with the municipality, the municipal library, the primary schools, the municipal museum and kindergartens. In addition to lending toys, games and books, these facilities provide a space where children and parents can play together, and receive information on health, education and child development. In addition, these places allow families from different cultural backgrounds to meet and socialise by participating in creative and social activities.
The opportunity to borrow toys is especially important for disadvantaged children, who have little or no games, toys, or books at home. During their stay in the library, parents can get information about the toys that are developmentally appropriate for their children. Borrowing toys, but also donating toys with which their children no longer play, for some families, is a way to show they care and to preserve the environment and combat consumerism.
Play Hub is a large room which is at the same time adapted for toddlers to play (0 – 3y), for older children to play and socialise (3y – teenagers) and for older family members to socialise of, talk with experts in field related to family care, take part in workshops and lectures.
The specificity and quality of the Play Hub lies in the fact that a Local Action Team is in charge of decision-making and improving the quality of the Hub’s work. Various community representatives involved in the Local Action Team ensure that the work of the Play Hub is truly based on the needs of the community. It consists of representatives of kindergartens, schools, the city museum, city library, local government representatives and representatives of the Open Academy Step by Step Croatia, etc.
Many experts are involved in the work of the Play Hub. The experts have different profiles and experience in different professions; they include teachers, health professionals, trainers, psychologists and social workers. This variety of experts contributes to building trust from families towards the different institutions of the community.