At a lively evening last night in the heart of Brussels, the winners of the 2022 Play for Change Awards were announced. Toy Industries Europe (TIE), which I chair, organise the awards. Now in their third edition, the pandemic resulted in this year being the first “in-person” ceremony. I can say with confidence that we resurfaced in style! There was a definite buzz in the room as the Brussels-based audience mingled with toy makers from across Europe, played with toys nominated for awards, and celebrated as winners were announced.
Any award is worth celebrating but the Play for Change Awards are particularly special.
I have always believed that our industry has a responsibility to create toys that help children best navigate life’s issues. By honouring those who take their responsibility seriously, the awards reflect an industry that’s becoming increasingly purpose driven.
The independent judges were impressed by the high standard of entries in each of the three categories: Diversity & Inclusion, Life Skills and Sustainability. My gratitude goes to the jury for their tough task in choosing winners. Congratulations to those who took Gold, Silver and Bronze! TIE has posted the full winners’ list – but here’s a taster:
- Miniland won the Silver award in the Diversity & Inclusion category for their dolls with a hearing implant. This is Miniland’s second Award: in 2021 they won Gold for their dolls that represent children with Down syndrome.
- Juguetes Cayro S.L. took Bronze in the Sustainability category for “Rubbish Race”, a board game with which children learn to recycle. It’s a game that’s not only produced sustainably, it also teaches children about sustainability. A 20-employee company based in Alicante, Juguetes Cayro S.L. is a role model for any small company who wants to enter the awards.
- In the “Life Skills” category The LEGO Group’s “Doom the Gloom”, a Gold award winner, is a mix of online mini-games and interactive videos that allows children to play while learning key digital citizenship skills such as cybersecurity and empathy.
I am proud that my own company, Mattel Inc. won Gold in the Sustainability category for Matchbox’s “Driving toward a better future” programme. How kids play today shapes the way they will drive the future. “Driving Toward a Better Future” is our product roadmap to make all Matchbox die-cast cars, playsets and packaging with 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials by 2030.
Amongst the large crowd, we were honoured to have guests such as Anouska Plasmeijer from the Jane Goodall Institute in Belgium and Silvan Agius from the Cabinet of European Commissioner Dalli. Keynote speaker Stefaan Vandist an author on innovation and sustainability provided us with food for thought as our industry evolves.
Our industry must be a force for positive change in sustainability, inclusion and skills for the future. With TIE, we contribute to game-changing policies. Through our toys, we are helping shape the citizens of tomorrow. I’m ambitious for the Play for Change Awards, because they reflect society’s growing priorities. I see them becoming the premier purpose-driven pan European toy awards. I encourage my industry peers to seize the opportunity to participate in 2023.
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