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HAPPY Speeltijd's spinning wheel tags game for kids to play and ensures no one is left out

In Bornem, a village south of Antwerp, a schoolyard innovation has been installed to prevent playtime exclusion. The HAPPY Speeltijd is a large, wall-mounted wheel that kids spin to decide what to play next. A key feature? Any child who touches the wheel's widely-extended arms is automatically part of the game.

When a HAPPY Speeltijd is installed, the school gets all children to agree on one thing: any child touching the object's arms or high-fiving its hands is included. That basic rule lays the groundwork for inclusive play and removes the barrier of a child having to ask if they can join in. Games are indicated with pictograms that kids of all ages and language backgrounds can understand. Since every region has its variations, a school's pupils pick their own set of games and corresponding pictograms.

Designed by Dentsu, HAPPY Speeltijd builds on a previous playground object the creative agency developed for Mattel's UNO; the new concept takes up less space than the earlier version, making it easier and cheaper for schools to install. HAPPY Speeltijd was revealed last week; it's now being marketed to primary schools in the Benelux.

Yellow HAPPY Speeltijd wheel with long, extended arms on a brick school wall

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Peer interactions allow children to learn social norms and practice prosocial behavior. Rejection is an inevitable part of that process, but if it becomes a pattern, it's associated with long-term adverse effects, including anxiety, loneliness and depression. Beyond emotional ramifications, excluded children are also more prone to behavioral and academic problems. Moreover, people who experienced a lonely childhood are likelier to report feeling lonely or isolated as adults.

Engineered to mitigate childhood loneliness, HAPPY Speeltijd presents a structured mechanism to boost inclusion. The combination of material and social elements is essential.  With its wide-open arms underlining the notion that 'all are welcome here,' the physical object presents a fun and visual reminder of a basic rule of inclusive play that pupils are expected to view as a given. What pressing and perhaps overlooked social issue could your brand help creatively solve?

Innovation of the day

Spotted by: Liesbeth den Toom