WHIRLIGIG GETS TOYMARK

Children's television star Sid Sloane presented the first ever 'Toymark' award to Brighton toyshop Whirligig yesterday, on behalf of the consumer action group Let Toys Be Toys.

The Toymark award is a new venture for the campaign against gender stereotyping in toy marketing which has hit the national news several times this year, with major retailers including Boots, The Entertainer and Toys R Us agreeing to sell toys in a more inclusive way.

Sid, 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.”

Sid explained that he 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."

Whirligig does not split toys into 'boys' and 'girls' sections, or market by gender, a move welcomed by many families, and the essence of this award. Peter Allison, owner, said: “We're delighted to receive 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: “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treasure trove of beautiful toys, which adults and children are free to browse without having to negotiate limiting and outdated stereotypes.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 toy retailers for a Toymark via twitter @lettoysbetoys or on the website www.lettoysbetoys.org.uk

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