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Vaasa residents voted to give 5,000 euros worth of toys to daycare centres

Published: 2.10.2022

Toys for daycare centres has been chosen as the winning entry in Vaasa’s participatory budgeting competition this year. The people of Vaasa could suggest ideas on where to spend 5,000 euros in August, and in September 10 proposals were shortlisted for online voting. The winning entry collected 392 votes. In total, an incredible 1195 votes were cast. The win also serves as an anniversary present to Vaasa residents, because today, 2 October, Vaasa celebrates 416 years since the city was founded.

– All the ideas we received were good and a wonderful number of votes as well as ideas were given. I would like to thank everyone for their time and effort. The toys also fit nicely into UNICEF’s Child Friendly Municipal model, in which the City of Vaasa is involved, says District Service Manager Suvi Aho, who is responsible for participatory budgeting.

Strength in community

The idea for new toys originated from the Vaasan Mammat Facebook group.

– In daycare centres, it is important that essential skills are learnt through play. I suggest that daycare centres get toys that encourage creativity and cooperation, says Salla Rundgren when justifying her proposal.

A total of 6 people from Vaasa proposed toys; In addition to Salla, the proposal came from Susanne Ripsomaa, Sara Sillanpää, Reija Lind, Rosa-Maria Kauppila and Riina Koskimies.

– It was good news that the toy proposal was supported! This will bring joy to the everyday lives of children in daycare facilities. A thank you goes to the person who suggested this in the Vaasan Mammat fb group and to the city who organised the competition, says Koskimies.

Voters were allowed to leave reasons for the idea they voted for. The toys were justified, among other ways, as follows:

“Children are the future and it is important to support development.”

” Having interesting new toys for children’s development is a great idea. It benefits a large group, from toddlers to pre-schoolers.”

“The daycare toys are in heavy demand 5 days a week. No toy can last forever. Nothing beats the joy of children at play and their desire to learn new things.”

“Many suggestions are excellent, but the need for toys in daycare facilities is something that should definitely be fixed quickly.”

“The other ideas are also great. But the closest thing to me are the interests of young children. They spend quite a large part of their day in early childhood education.”

Play already starts at the door

The director of the City of Vaasa’s early childhood education, Anne Savola-Vaaraniemi, is pleased about the winner of the participatory budgeting competition.

– The toys will come in handy. Play often already starts at the door, and that’s why it’s important to invest in the environment as well. Play does not always only need toys, but also accessories for building, fabrics to create an atmosphere, coloured lights, music for a mystical world, mats to demarcate play areas, drama props or costumes to help you stay in a role. Of course, new toys, bought and donated, also support children’s learning and development. The importance of play is really great, says Savola-Vaaraniemi.

Buying new toys has been a challenge.

– For several years, we have had purchasing bans in place, and due to procurement contracts, the methods of acquiring toys are often limited. That’s why this prize will help a lot of daycare centres. We will also listen to the children’s wishes when deciding what to buy, promises Savola-Vaaraniemi

Every idea captured

In addition to toys, the ideas voted on this year were: a sales booth by the waterfront trail, an open-air swimming spot, a nature trail experience track, an idea living room for the park, agility obstacles for dog parks, a fruit and berry garden, a music tree by the shore, a rejuvenation of the arboretum and reflection benches by the waterfront trail.

– None of the ideas that come to us go to waste but are passed on to our departments for development work. The city will promote several of the residents’ proposals this year; The arboretum’s rose garden is being improved and so too is Strömsö’s swimming pier. The possibility and location of a winter swimming spot will also be investigated. And we will collect new ideas again in August next year, says Aho.

In 2020, the winning idea was to plant a cherry tree park on the shores of the bay known as Onkilahti. Last year’s winning idea was a flower meadow in Vaskiluoto. The implementation of winning ideas is monitored on the city’s social media channels.

The goal of participatory budgeting is that city residents participate in the development of their own environment and highlight ways in which public funds can be used.

The City of Vaasa is involved in UNICEF’s Child Friendly Municipal model, which is a work tool offered to municipalities by UNICEF. After two years of development work, a municipality can be granted recognition as a UNICEF Child Friendly Municipality. The model helps the municipality to find the right solutions in terms of children’s wellbeing in the municipality’s administration and in children’s everyday services.