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‘Making something from nothing’

Give children a way to build a confidant, friend and anchor from the materials that exist around them

Photo of Alix Craig
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We intend to help children make a small step in the right direction by providing them, either directly or through the community which exists around them, with the inspiration to create soft toys from the materials around them. We would like to print visual instructions and templates on to packaging and other suitable materials which are going into refugee camps through aid organisation and donation. These templates can then be used inside the camps once the primary purpose of the item has been completed. Create: Through our initial research we found the importance in skill sharing and developing stimulation and gamification for children. The aim of creating the soft toy themselves is to allow motivation, self belief and a physical result. Care: Vulnerable people often find all responsibility is removed from them. By providing a child with something to care for you enable them to assume responsibility, to have a role in caring and encourage self-worth. Physical Comfort: There is a long and established history of emotional links with inanimate objects, from toys to blankets which is widespread throughout cultures.


Many children will arrive at refugee camps without loved ones and with a difficulty to process the situation they have fled from. This is where the seed of the idea came from, an object that will give the child something to create, to care for and to provide physical comfort.


• Scope surplus materials commonly found at refugee camps • Explore skills which people living in refugee camps have, to define the extent to which instructions would need to be explicit. • Test and develop the designs across different materials (from refugee camps and donations from developed countries; socks, gloves) and test various shapes and outlines to find the most effective, crosscultural toy. The image attached is inspiration for our design, this is not what we have created.


Great Fridays is a design company based in the UK and USA. A group of Designers and engineers from the Manchester Studio worked on this idea.


  • This idea is meant to inspire - I hope someone else takes it on.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ali Inam

Hi Alix. Thank you for the share! It is an exciting idea! I strongly believe in self learning and believe that by providing a platform where students can perform activities with products that they can relate to can contribute immensely in improving children confidence and bridging their communication gap with the world. I have been thinking about something similar but hope to leverage technology by providing students with tablets which they can use to document their day against verbal triggers of 'happy moment', 'angry moment' , 'sad moment' etc. and use that as means to reach out to them.

It would be great to see your team's comments on how viable do you think this approach will be? The idea can be seen in detail here:

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Alix, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story with higher impact. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.