Play accompanies childhood. Children have a natural need for action, and play supports their overall development and also brings them satisfaction and joy. It has a particularly important role in the development of the child’s brain.

Play is a basic right of every child. However, millions of children around the world have been deprived of the right to play by war, poverty, violence, and disease. In response to this violation, WWO has created Element of Play® (EOP), a program designed to bring about psychosocial change and support communities in areas of extreme poverty, disaster, crisis, and marginalization. The program was created with the understanding that adverse childhood experiences cause trauma to children. This trauma is the reason for them to miss important stages in their development and leads to lasting negative consequences in their lives, which has a cumulative effect on their communities.

The program is provided in communities with different cultures and needs, and usually with very limited resources. It adapts to different conditions with the main aim of providing access to positive experiences, learning through play, and learning for adults how to support children’s development in order for communities to function together and be healthy. The program is implemented in Ethiopia, Haiti, Vietnam, USA and Bulgaria.

In Bulgaria, the Element of Play® program has been imlemented since 2011 and consists of two components. The Early Childhood component has programs for children and families based on international best practices that are enriched and adapted to the local context and the Adult Learning component is based on specialized training programs for parents and training of professionals on early childhood development.

The implementation of the two program components aims at a holistic approach to child development, promotes the rehabilitation and development of local communities, supports families to nurture a strong and positive relationship with each other, creates professional networks in support of early childhood development. An important part of providing the program is measuring its impact on child development, families and communities; adult skills, and environment. For this purpose, we use a number of different tools to measure the impact.

The Element of Play® is a widely applicable program both for children aged between 0 – 8 years and their families, children and young people with different abilities; and for professionals working with children and families and to those professionally engaged in developing local and national policies for children at risk and their families.

The program is implemented through its two interrelated components:


This component includes programs for working with children and families, based on good practices from around the world which have been adapted for Bulgaria. The programs ‘Toy Library’, ‘Music in Motion’ and ‘Storytelling’ have their own life at the locations where they are being implemented and that makes them unique. The are being adapted for the needs of the different communities and are being implemented with different intensity and duration of the play sessions. They are either basic or additional programs for working with children from 0 to 8 years old. The programs meet different needs that children have as children learn in different ways. Some children prefer playing with toys and that brings them more joy. For others, music and movement are the way to express themselves and connect with others. Others develop their inner resources through fairytales and imagination. The three programs perfectly compliment each other in order to support children’s development.


This component includes all activities related to investing in the development of adults – parents; professionals and non-professionals who work with children and families; young care leavers; administrative structures and local leadership engaged with the development of policies affecting children and families.

The WWO signature program is protected through registration as a trademark in the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria.

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