The PlayopolisToys website gets a makeover

At Hello Recess, we understand the importance of toys and the impact they have on a child’s development. We spoke to Christina Wallerstein a year ago in this post, who embodies this sentiment. Her company, PlayopolisToys, is an online store offering a wide variety of toys to maximize cognitive development for kids with diverse learning abilities. We are excited to announce the relaunch of her website and we think getting to know her will explain what makes PlayopolisToys so exceptional. 

What is your background and how did you start PlayopolisToys?
I’ve been in business over 30 years, but only in e-commerce since launching our original site as Playworks in March 2006. Originally I did direct sales to children’s centers, toy fairs to benefit children’s programs, and worked as a consultant and supplier on new and established centers. I once had the challenging and exciting opportunity to set-up and supply a toy lending library for an agency overseeing family childcare and after school programs. All this grew out of being a parent at Pacific Oaks Children’s School and learning about child development, the importance of valuing the child, and encouraging open-ended play and experiential learning.

Early on I became interested in how traumatic events, such as prolonged hospitalization, affects children. That’s how I began working with child life programs. Next came special needs, starting with child development services for the blind and visually impaired. The issue has always been providing open-ended toys for self-directed play. Granted, special needs often dictate adaptive uses, but I have always focused on toys that invite play and support development across the board. 
When I learned we could not trademark Playworks, I chose to change our name to PlayopolisToys which is our registered trademark. I think of Playopolis as a place for open-ended, self-directed play. Polis refers to ancient Greek city states which were self-governing. Play, at its best, is self-directed, governed by the child. We call our customers citizens of play. Polis also refers to metropolis, a big place, and what’s bigger in the life of a child than play? 
What makes Playopolis stand out from other stores? We’re internet based and, at this point, the majority of our customers are institutional, primarily hospital-based child life programs, then special needs programs from early intervention through state departments of assistive & rehabilitation services, then families. We’re delighted with the increasing orders from families.
We tend to attract families that share our aversion to trendy licensed toys and appreciate more classic, open-ended, kid-powered toys. Because the toys we sell foster inclusive play, meaning we’ve chosen toys suitable for children of all abilities, everyone in the family gets to play. We focus on developmental, distraction, and sensory toys with universal kid appeal. Toys build bridges by bringing children together in a shared activity. 
What is your favorite feature from the new site? The video because it allows us to share our core values. Watching children actively engaged and delighting in open-ended, self-directed play says everything about the joy and learning that occur naturally when we provide appropriately challenging toys, step back, and allow the children to figure out what to do. 


Be sure to check out the new and improved site here! We haven’t been able to stop exploring. 

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