Learning to count by playing with marbles

Have you found an outdoor space for your little ones after the coronavirus health crisis? While protecting the youngest ones at home was a premise during the crisis, it is high time for them to know what many of their parents played in the street decades ago.

This was the main objective of the “Ekofiesta de sueños” (Ekofiesta of dreams). The idea arose from a postgraduate course for entrepreneurs and was brought to life by Roy Barthelemy Rodríguez, leader of EkoPeque and a group of Cuban entrepreneurs.

“Ekofiesta de sueños sought to bring together economic and social enterprises interested in creating for children, adolescents and young people in the same space. After the postgraduate course, it occurred to us that it would be interesting to bring together the government and the private sector in that sense,” Roy tells us.

The event took place at Havana’s Quinta de los Molinos gardens, a great space offering the possibility of being outdoors and in contact with nature. It included a varied program of talks, where entrepreneurs raised the need to create spaces for this sector of the population.

Several variables related to the development of such projects were discussed, such as inclusion and the use of a better vocabulary, which contributes to academic progress. With this aim, the project “Accompanying children and adolescent entrepreneurs from vulnerable communities” was presented, coordinated by the Loyola Reina Center.

On the other hand, the “Mídete” campaign was promoted and Tamara Roselló, UNICEF specialist in communication for Social and Behavioral Change in Cuba, spoke about social responsibility to promote the protection of children’s rights through entrepreneurship.

Mayra García, associate of the program “Every child learns,” and also from the UNICEF Office, gave a presentation on “Edu-entertainment with an inclusive approach and responsible parenthood.” In addition, the space included the presentation of the book “Psychological well-being of children and adolescents: Articles on positive parenting for mothers, fathers and caregivers,” by Dr. C. Roxanne Castellanos.

About 30 enterprises were invited, under the organization of the Office of the Havana City Historian, the Quinta de los Molinos, the Golden Kids project, Tu Taller and EkoPeque.

An unimaginable number of families participated in the event which, in its practical mode, included the launching of the children’s contest “Almadía, a city of toys,” zootherapy for children with disabilities, as well as the exhibition and interaction with animals of the institution, planting and sale of ornamental plants in ecological bags, free drawing area and the main feature — street games for the whole family.

“A lot of people started to join us, more that we never imagined. It was really great; we premiered the musical theme of ‘Ekopeque y su piquete’ and the street games, the proposal we wanted to gift Havana, which was a great success.

“We could not do even half of what we had planned — the tug-of-war, for example, united children and parents, which showed us that we must continue the Ekofiestas in other spaces, parks, neighborhoods of Old Havana, to learn by playing; and recover those traditional games that define Cuban culture,” he added.

Another of the premises was to prioritize the line of handcrafted toys made from recyclable resources. There was also a panel for the socialization of good practices of experiences associated with infants, to which Almadía Juguetes, Sovi Juguetes, Tu Taller, Golden Kids and Ekopeque were invited.

“The key to the event was to all come together while thinking about that specific public, children and the Cuban family. Ensuring that children have good memories so that when they grow up, they can come back to them, that they learn to count, by playing with marbles.”

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