Saving lives can be child’s play

Members of Bede Academy's sewing club with their Hugs, ready to be sent to Kenya.
Members of Bede Academy's sewing club with their Hugs, ready to be sent to Kenya.
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CUDDLY toys being made by children in Blyth are helping to save lives in Africa.

The soft toys are being produced by pupils at the Bede Academy to be exported to the poorest parts of Kenya to be used as a way of attracting mothers otherwise likely to shun essential medical care into health clinics.

“They love the bright colours and the novelty of the toys, so they come into the health centres,” said Verna MacNaughton, a networker for the Kenya Acorn Project, the north east-based charity distributing the toys to clinics.

“The soft toys are really helping as they encourage the mums to come into the clinics. It is incredible, but they are actually saving lives.”

The idea to produce the toys, given the name of hugs, came from 11-year-old Chloe Warnes, whose mother Dawn is a learning support assistant at the academy’s primary school and runs the sewing club at the senior school.

The fabric for the toys is donated by Ashington sleepsuit manufacturer the All-in-One Company.

“My grandma came home with loads of material, so we decided to take it to the sewing club and make toys for children in Africa,” said Chloe.

“When I was at primary school, we watched a film about Kenya, and I thought it was really sad because they had so little.

“This makes us realise how lucky we are, and so far we have made about 100 hugs to send to the Kenya Acorn Project.”

Verna added: “It’s a fantastic idea because the children don’t have any toys as it is a very deprived area.”

“One little boy with pneumonia came in and was frightened. It wasn’t until he was given a toy that he smiled for the first time.”