In the early days of Family Place, a toy lending library was introduced, and it remains popular! We owe the continued success of the toy library network in BC to the work and dedication of Val Fronczek who sadly passed in 2013.
Val had a long and distinguished professional career as an advocate for children, children’s play, and their rights. She set up the Children’s Play Resource Centre back in the 1970s when she was a member of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth. As a result, Val attended a Toy Library conference in Ontario where she met Toronto social worker Joanne von Levetzow who specialized in helping children with physical disabilities. Joanne had a keen interest in adapting toys for these children and developed an informal lending network, often with hospitals and treatment centres. Seeing Val’s passion for promoting the importance of children’s play, Joanne approached Val to form a national association of toy libraries. The goal was accomplished in 1975 with the formation of the Canadian Association of Toy Libraries (CATL).
A few years later, 1979 was proclaimed the Year of the Child by the United Nations. The Canadian federal government recognized this important year by making various grants available to support children. The Canadian Association of Toy Libraries secured a grant and expanded its reach for a truly national presence.
This collaboration marked the first link of a national association in the field of parent-child programming with BC. At the turn of the decade, the time for building strong networks in parent-child programming across Canada had come.