It's a simple solution that makes a huge difference for kids who don't get to run around outside. This is what Dutch designer Job Jansweijer had in mind when he created his graduation project, the KonneKt, a toy that changes the function of a physical barrier between a child isolated in a hospital and a friend at the other side of it.
The project works this way: A glass panel previously used only to isolate sick children from the outside world peers now features playful multi-colored objects, attached by magnets and suction caps, that can be used to create games. "Children, parents, childcare workers and doctors were very positive about it. And many hospitals in different countries have already indicated they would like to have it too," Jansweijer tells Metro.
What inspired you to create KonneKt?
For my graduation project at the Delft University of Technology, I interviewed child cancer patients. During these interviews I learned that I had been prejudiced about them. I realized that, instead of focusing on them having cancer, I should focus on them being children. They still want to play and explore. I strongly believe that all children should be able to play with other children, but these children couldn’t. I want to change that with KonneKt.
Can we say resilience is the main point of your project?
I think the main point is that child cancer patients are still children; they, too, feel the need to play with other children, and should have the possibility. We must remember that, for any child, play with other children is crucial for normal social development. If children are not able to play for a longer period of time, their social development will stagnate. By playing together, children learn to collaborate, communicate, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and build empathy: very important skills in your later life! Also, it is very good for these children to leave their beds and move more. KonneKt encourages them to do so.
What kind of games they can play in KonneKt?
With KonneKt the kids can play together on opposite sides of the window between their rooms and the hallway. They can attach shapes to a window using suction cups and magnets, and by combining these shapes in different ways, the children can build a maze or a jungle, castles and dragons or tropical birds, play existing games such as chess or tic tac toe, or variations on Pacman, or anything else they can imagine. KonneKt is designed to trigger the imagination of children and encourage them to make up their own games, together with the children on the other side of the window.
What are the plans to make the toy available to the hospitals soon?
I am ready to start producing, but to actually start are quite expensive because of mold and toy certification costs. That’s why I will launch a crowdfunding campaign in September. People can buy a game for at home, and the same game is donated to a hospital. I aim to give away 100 games to 100 hospitals with this crowdfunding campaign. If the campaign succeeds, I expect the first games to arrive at hospitals in a year from now.
Follow Metro on Twitter: @metronewyork