Ashardeen designs therapeutic toys for refugee children
Bring yourself, Ashardeen will do the same
Design for asylum seekers centers
Ashardeen moved from Singapore to the Netherlands in 2018 to study at the Design Academy Eindhoven. One of the teachers of his Product Design course in Singapore was familiar with Eindhoven and recommended he go there to further develop his design skills. Although Eindhoven likes to portray itself as the vibrant center of Dutch design, it was the tranquility that drew Ashardeen to the city. “Singapore is always on; over here the stores close at six.”
“I grew up in a poor part of Singapore,” says Ashardeen. “I know what it’s like when you don’t have anyone to take care of you.” So when the opportunity arose to create a project for refugee children, he and fellow student Steven de Windt jumped at the chance.
Spelementen primarily offers some much-needed entertainment for the children at the centers. “Sometimes all they have to play with is a ball or an empty can.” The children can use the toy’s wooden elements to hone their building skills, while other elements have a therapeutic purpose. It provides them with space for reflection, or they can build a place to share their experiences.
“I grew up in a poor part of Singapore. I know what it’s like when you don’t have anyone to take care of you.”
Play and reflection
Ashardeen hopes to provide Spelementen to every asylum seekers center in the Netherlands. The young refugees who tested the building elements were very enthusiastic. “Our next step is to make a good manual for the volunteers at the centers.”
Eindhoven will definitely be buzzing during the Dutch Design Week. Teachers at the Design Academy selected Spelelementen to be displayed. “I hope kids will love it,” Ashardeen says about his toy. “And I hope it will make people realize that some are luckier than others with where they end up.”
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