OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Time to Play

Home visits made by "Play Fairies" in rural communities to improve positive interactions between caregivers and children through play.

Photo of Renata Marmolejo
1 3

Written by

Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)

Our idea evolved to the possibility of growing the strategy and making an impact on more rural native communities in Mexico.

Name or Organization

Un Kilo de Ayuda A.C


Un Kilo de Ayuda headquarters are located in Mexico City but we work in rural communities in Mexico. This Project takes place in the community of Ganzda, Acambay, Estado de Mexico.

What is your stage of development?

  • Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD


  • Non - Profit

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Describe your submission in one clear sentence

"Time to Play" aims to increase the feeling of parental competence, reduce parental stress, improve or maintain neurodevelopment according to the age of each child, encourage the development of executive and self-regulation functions and improve positive interactions between caregivers and children in rural native communities.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

This project will support caregivers in understanding the cognitive and emotional value through play, and how easy it is to find time to play with the daily routine. Home visits allow us to know the family context and daily routine, in order to elaborate a specific game plan for each family. We look for material they have at home to be used during the week, which enables the creation of new games according to each home and the people who live in it as there are nuclear families who also live with their grandparents, uncles and other family members.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

After an ethnographic investigation, we noted that in the community where the project will be implemented: •Mothers carry out duties that consume much of their time; they have to obtain fuelwood to cook, prepare the meals for the day and take food to some members of the family who are out of town like their husband or their older children. •Children spend a lot of time alone, playing in spaces and/or with material that puts them at risk. •There are significant differences between parenting practices in nuclear families and in extended families. Mothers in extended families have the support of other women to attend and care for their sons and daughters under the age of five. •Fathers and males are not involved in domestic or parenting chores. The intervention model through home visits is innovative in Mexico in the context of public programs that serve the population in rural areas with high poverty rates. Play, as an axis to promote development is innovative in Latin America since most of the homes visiting programs implemented in the region have as an axis to improve parent’s upbringing practices without a specific focus on play. The implementation of game-making sessions from locally available resources that respond to the cultural context is a game-changing practice in home visiting programs. In all, these characteristics make this project different from all intervention programs that support early childhood care in Mexico.

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

We aim to change the parent’s perception that there is no time available for positive interactions through play and sensitizing on the importance of play as a driving force for the development of skills and competencies in a child.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

Making good use of what has already been done within the “Modelo de Intervención para el Desarrollo Infantil Temprano” (Early Childhood Development Intervention Model), MIDIT by its initials in Spanish, of Un Kilo De Ayuda, we are interested in enriching this model, specifically within the Neurological and Psycho-Affective Development strategy, through the implementation of play as an important component. The chosen community to do the intervention is located in the rural native community of Ganzdá from the municipality of Acambay in the State of Mexico. It is intended to serve, throughout two years, 20 families who voluntarily accept to participate and who have at least one member under the age of five. The controlled group measurements are being implemented in Salitre del Cerro, a community from Ganzdá that shares the same demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. This group only receive the benefits of the MIDIT in its current version, but the families will be assessed with the same Evaluation Plan that will be used for the “Time to Play” project, in order to see if there are differences in the results. Within this project, we nurtured the concept of “Play Fairies”, trained people from our staff who visit homes on six occasions with several purposes; the first visit, for instance, is mainly for observation, noting the family’s dynamics for an hour and providing options for play for a week. This “fairy” models the game in order for the caregiver and the child to do it for themselves. However, in the future, we aim to recruit "Play Fairies" under the criteria of the voluntary and open call that will be published in the community. Prior to their contact with the families, the “fairies” will attend an initial training program. The actual "Play Fairies" are working in collaboration with some expert partners in terms of training caregivers to define the “fairies” profile and in the development of an initial and continuous formation program. In addition to the initial training, the “fairies” have the support and accompaniment of the UKA headquarters team through the implementation of the program, along with an intermediate training workshop and another at the end of the implementation. For six weeks, through a series of six home visits –whose duration will vary according to scheduled activities, approximately from hour to hour and a half– the "Play fairy" along with the primary caregiver will elaborate and implement a game plan that responds to the characteristics and needs of the child and his/her family. The implementation of the project will be carried out according to the methodology that applies in the "Aceleradora de Innovación para la Primera Infancia"(Cluster on innovation in Early Childhood). AIPI by its initials in Spanish, participating projects, where AIPI is a member of the Frontiers of Innovation Group (FOI) of the Center on the Developing Child of Harvard University. The theory of change is being tested in the so-called fast iteration cycles, which are low-cost piloting series carried out on a small scale that allows checking the viability of the project. The implementation of each iteration cycle is an opportunity to refine the project based on what has and has not been working. Although the duration of each cycle is variable, on average it has a duration that allows to quickly have evidence about the components that should be modified to improve the results of the intervention. To sum up, “Time to Play” aims to: •Sensitize caregivers through home visits. Offer in each Play Plan a selection of games relevant to each family. •Explain the benefits that each game of the Plan has for the children´s development. •Modeling during home visits positive interactions during the game. •Guide caregivers to reproduce positive interactions when playing with children. •Develop Ad hoc Play Plans for each dyad. •Ensure that each Play Plan proposes games for exclusive moments of play, and joins activities of the daily routine.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

With this program, caregivers, children, families and the community itself are benefited, as the quality of upbringing is enhanced. These benefits include: •Increased feeling of parental competence. •Reduced parental stress. •Improved or maintained neurodevelopment according to the age of each child. •Encouraged development of executive and self-regulation functions. •Increase positive interactions between caregivers and children. After the implementation, our first "Play Fairies" mention that playing is a simple and effective way to learn. Caregivers were very excited and interested in the project, in each visit they already had doubts and ideas of new games to implement with their child. Fairies also mention that it was very common to hear that they were interested in knowing the benefits that each game had and asked if there were specific games to develop certain areas of their children. This allowed Fairies to investigate more about games or exercises focused on different areas of development and to support families depending on their needs.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

We aim to bring our strategy to scale, reaching 1,200 Play Fairies in 600 rural native communities in 5 different States on Mexico, by 2021

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

It is a new way to engage caregivers, attend their needs, identify their routine and incorporate the game as a fundamental tool for the development of the child's brain. In these rural areas there is no service available to support the development of a child, also these areas have a high prevalence of malnutrition, anemia and development lag. Currently, Un Kilo de Ayuda, intervenes with its “Modelo de Intervención para el Desarrollo Infantil Temprano” (Early Childhood Development Intervention Model), MIDIT by its initials in Spanish, to over 30,000 children and their caregivers in rural native communities

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (1500 characters)

Our strategy allows the "Play Fairies", who are caregivers, volunteers of the community, to receive tools that allow them to be self-sufficient and proactive on the topic of play and child development. "Play Fairies" will become a reference in the community. In addition, their approach to families through home visits allows personalized support by building a game plan according to their daily routine generating family-friendly environments.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

The formation of “Play fairies”, in the first phase, contemplates the knowledge and implementation of the game plans.In the second phase the “Play fairies” are formed to achieve the follow-up of the game plans, the achievements and the evaluation of the development of each child. In a third phase, the fairies become trainers, what makes this project sustainable increasing the participation of the caregivers of the community. This also will lower operative costs because the follow-up from UKA headquarters will be less frequent. We could feel limited to execute de project because of social conflicts on the zone for example: In the areas of Oaxaca and Chiapas, there are civil protests that prohibit access to roads connecting different communities. These protests arise because of social issues and even problems with the government that impede access to vehicles for days and in some cases, Protestants demand you to pay a toll to have access.This could be avoided if fairies have an adequate preparation during the second phase, their training must help them develop abilities and competencies that allow them to make home visits without the need of UKA local team in the area. ¿How can we keep “Play Faries” formed with a leadership that allows them to be recognized in their community and allow them to implement the activities we do through continuous training? We believe that the workshops given must have incentives that motivate them to commit to the project.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

The project is being implemented with the UKA local team from the State of Mexico who are the "Play Fairies" that started the project. These fairies now become the leaders of the project in that community and will be the support of the new “Play Fairies” that will be formed.

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (1500 characters)

The cost of growth of 100 "fairies" of the first year would be $56,000 dollars, it is expected after 2 years we will have an accelerated growth, while the second year 100 "fairies" $161,000, and $300,000 for Year 3

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (1500 characters)

After the feasibility of the project, costs have been identified that can have significant savings in scale economy, the equipment occupies 44% and the operating and evaluation expenses 42%, the training and material for the households the remaining 14%. We focus on recognizing the knowledge of women leaders "fairies" on child development, play and its importance in childhood, as well as to retake the parenting and play practices of each place, shaping the activities with the theoretical fundamentals to optimize the infantile development. In lifelong learning, the proposed methodology is precisely aimed at "facilitating" apprenticeship and not imposing a flexible form of work. We focus on taking back proven local practices and order them so that what is learned is replicated in different scenarios and with different people to achieve the appropriation of the subject and the activities of breeding, play and stimulation, but above all, we hope that the workshops will be meaningful for the mothers and the children that they attend, as well as in the visits of play and adaptation to the routine, so that the activities become part of the daily life, thus giving , the maximum natural benefit of the game in the home.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

Since 2010, we have implemented stimulation workshops in communities, this has been integrated into the actions of nutritional surveillance and anemia of “Un Kilo de Ayuda”. Analyzing the results, we realized that children who received adequate stimulation achieved adequate neurodevelopment, even being malnourished and/or anemic. In other words, we were able to corroborate that stimulation is a fundamental element in neurodevelopment. We asked ourselves, how could we make this stimulation take place at home more naturally without forcing them to do specific tasks and schedules, given that caregivers have little time due to daily activities? Therefore, we believed that to understand the daily routine and to incorporate the game is a way of stimulating the body of the child at any hour of the day. We are certain that the “Play Fairy” is a character that symbolizes kindness, magic, fun and is someone who understands the environment where families live because they are part of the same community. A “Play Fairy” is not someone who comes from outside and impose beliefs and activities that do not match with those of the community, the fairy is someone that empathizes because he/she also lives in a similar context. “Play Faries” are leaders, creative, likes to share and play, knows child development is important for a family, a community and the child itself. Un Kilo de Ayuda was born in 1986 as a food program that was carrying groceries in bulk in exchange for 8 hours of community work, seeking to contribute to the economy of the families of the states of Coahuila, Chiapas, Distrito Federal, Estado de Mexico, Michoacan, Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Oaxaca. Later, the program received food surplus of U.S. NGO’s to be arrested by international agreements signed by Mexico. To continue with the work we sought alternatives for obtaining funds such as the creation in the 90's of Un Kilo de Ayuda’s cards, as well as other mechanisms that supported the collection. Toward the 2000 Un Kilo de Ayuda redefines its vision: to eradicate child malnutrition through a comprehensive nutrition program in which incorporated a methodology that was intervention, measurement and behavior change, advised and supported by the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Salvador Zubiran Nutrition. From 2013 adapts its program toward a model for Early Childhood Development (ECD) which will contribute achieving the full capacity in all children under 5 years under a rights-based approach.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)

"Time to Play" is an initiative of Un Kilo de Ayuda, that form part of the cluster in Mexico of “Fronteras de la Innovación” (Frontiers of Innovation), FOI by its initials in English, a platform of the Center of Child Development (CDI) of Harvard designed to accelerate the development and adoption of innovations based on science that have achieved outstanding impact on a large scale.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

Experts on home visits on rural communities and designing family games

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Attachments: Please upload relevant attachments or graphics or show us how you prototyped.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Jinal Sanghavi

This is very interesting. In fact, it reminded me of Improv like in this talk: