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First shopper’s prize for toy shops awarded

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toymark pledge sticker, let toys be toys, no gender‘Let Toys Be Toys is a great campaign and we’re really pleased to be part of it’.

Children’s TV star Sid Sloane caused some half-term excitement recently when he made an appearance at Whirligig toy shop in Brighton.

He was there to present the store with the first ‘Toymark’ award from Let Toys Be Toys, the consumer action group that campaigns against gender stereotyping in toy marketing in the UK and Ireland.

Sloane, of CBeebies fame, said: “I was very honoured to be asked to hand out the inaugural Let Toys Be Toys ‘Toymark’ to Peter Allison, owner of Whirligig.

“I grew up in a single-parent family of five and we were lucky to even get toys to play with. But I did have a sister, and she always encouraged me to play with her toys, so I’m all for not being gender-specific when it comes to toys.

“I think it’s fantastic that Whirligig lets children be children.”

The Toymark award is a new venture for the campaign which has hit the news several times this year, after getting retailers such as Boots, The Entertainer and Toys R Us agreed to move away from gender stereotypes and to instead sell toys in a way which is more inclusive to both girls and boys.

Sloane also said, “I got involved with Let Toys Be Toys because by believing in children and sparking their imaginations we encourage them to shine.

“By not reinforcing gender stereotypes upon kids you are promoting free thinking and empowering self-esteem, which is essential to healthy person-centred development.”

It was a busy morning, as families with children of all ages came to the presentation.

The shop, unlike several large chains, does not split toys in “boys” and “girls” sections, or market by gender, a move welcomed by many families, and the essence of this award.

Peter Allison, Whirligig’a owner said: “We’re delighted to get the Toymark. Let Toys Be Toys is a great campaign and we’re really pleased to be part of it.

“When a shopper asks us for gift buying advice we don’t ask the child’s gender – we always start with their age and interests. We think children are children.”

Local resident and Let Toys Be Toys campaigner Rebecca Brueton said:  “We’ve had some great successes in persuading big retailers to drop sexist signs, but we also want to celebrate those shops that already get it right, and that’s what the Toymark is all about.

“Whirligig is a wonderful example of best practice in toy selling.

“It’s an amazing treasure trove of beautiful toys, which adults and children are free to browse without having to negotiate limiting and outdated stereotypes.

“We’re really pleased to be able to award them our very first Toymark, and plan to add many more great shops to our online directory of recommended retailers.”

Shoppers can nominate UK and Irish-based toy retailers for a Toymark via twitter @lettoysbetoys or on the Let Toys Be Toys website.

Let Toys Be Toys is a grassroots consumer campaign, run and organised wholly by volunteers, calling on retailers to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys.

Over 9,000 people have now signed the Let Toys Be Toys petition on change.org, asking retailers in the UK and Ireland to remove gender labels and organise toys by genre not gender, and the campaign has over 12,000 likes/followers on social media.

Do join in.

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