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The Power to Play: from Trash to Treasure

Toy Exhibit Schedule

ChildFund will share the toy collection from around the world in major U.S. locations including:

Where we'll be

Oct. 4, 2011-Feb. 26, 2012
Providence Children's Museum
Providence, RI Learn More

View Providence Children's Museum Blog

Where we've been

Idaho State Historical Museum
Boise, ID
New World Stages
New York, NY
Denver Press Club
Denver, CO
Children's Museum
Boston, MA
Page Bond Gallery
Richmond, VA
National Press Club
Washington, DC
Museum of Tolerance
Los Angeles, CA
The Breman Museum
Atlanta, GA
Kolitha and his friends singing songs.
In Sri Lanka, Kolitha - in the light blue T-shirt - and his friends sing songs with their toy drums.


Providence Children’s Museum in Rhode Island is the latest stop for ChildFund’s traveling exhibit, The Power to Play: From Trash to Treasure. From Oct. 4, 2011 through Feb. 26, 2012, visitors to the museum can discover how children from developing countries create playthings from the little they have on hand: a doll from leaves, a guitar from cardboard, a ball from discarded plastic bags.

Says ChildFund President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard, “The toys they made offer dramatic proof that – through it all – children can retain their sense of wonder, their desire to play, their indomitable spirit and their ability to imagine and create…if they are given the support they need.”

What better place to see toys made by children from around the world than at a children’s museum?

Creativity and passion

ChildFund International has long recognized that play is essential to the healthy development of children. Play helps them discover and explore, solve problems and test new ideas. Through play, children experience friendship, cooperation and teamwork.

Toy snake from bottle caps
Toy snake made of bottle caps.

The self-confidence and enthusiasm built through the power of play will transition with children into their adulthood, helping them become leaders of enduring change.

In celebration of our 70-year history of helping children, we communicate their strength, fervor and imagination with 350 hand-crafted toys in an exhibition entitled,

The Power to Play: from Trash to Treasure

Children from around the world have contributed to this collection. Some toys are unique to their place of origin. Others tell the story of social, economic or political conditions in which these children often find themselves in the middle.

Boy with car

And some are as universal as a soccer ball or kite, connecting children across all three regions via similarities in their type of play and crafting techniques.

Whether it's a toy boat from an old flip flop or a truck from an empty spray can, children have a remarkable power to create and play.

A showcase of the collection will be traveling to major museums and other locations across the United States. To ensure the toys arrive safely at each of their destinations, ChildFund is partnering with UPS for shipping.

Our traveling exhibition will enable thousands of people to appreciate the resourcefulness of the children who created each toy and to understand how important for a child's development is "The Power to Play."

Click on the links below to read children's stories about their toys and how they are made and click on the videos to learn more about the exhibition and the making of the toys.

  • Warsito and Ade
    Central Java, Indonesia
    Warsito and Ade
    My name is Warsito and I am the youngest in my family. I am 13-years-old and studying the fifth grade in elementary school. One of my favorite activities after school is playing "egrang" (stilts) with my friends.
    Read more
  • Adriana, Nollan and Tyrel
    Mexico, Honduras, Dominica
    Adriana, Nollan and Tyrel
    In my community we make toys out of recycled materials such as plastic, wood, metal bottle caps, strings or rope and work with hammers and nails.
    Read more
  • Ardyan and Yudis
    Central Java, Indonesia
    Ardyan and Yudis
    With coloring items, vibrant string, some paper and bamboo, 12-year-old Ardyan successfully crafts one of his favorite toys: a kite.
    Read more
  • "The Power to Play" - By Eric Severson
    Screenshot of video depicting boys building a rideable scooter
    Eric Severson was insprired to write a song about ChildFund's Power to Play program. Enjoy this music video!
  • Power to Play : Asia Slideshow
    Screenshot of video depicting children playing handmade musical instruments
    Children who are deprived, excluded and vulnerable have an amazing ability to face adversity with creativity and passion...
  • Power to Play : Africa Slideshow
    Screenshot of video depicting boys building toy trucks
    ...That resiliency is reflected in an exhibition of handcrafted toys by children from around the world...
  • Power to Play : Americas Slideshow
    Screenshot of video depicting boy playing cardboard guitar
    ...Experience ChildFund's "Power to Play"