x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

The Happy Box: Bond with children through educational activities

Desiring to spend more quality time with their children, Jumana Al Darwish and her sister-in-law Linda Al Darwish created The Happy Box. The Happy Box allows adults to engage with children through activities that are both fun and educational.

From left, Jumana Al Darwish with her sister-in-law Linda Al Darwish. Courtesy of Jumana Al Darwish
From left, Jumana Al Darwish with her sister-in-law Linda Al Darwish. Courtesy of Jumana Al Darwish

Jumana Al Darwish is the first to admit how unhappy she was with the quality of time she was spending with her only daughter, Ayla, who turns 3 soon. So the 32-year-old Jordanian, who works as head of corporate planning and development at Dubai Cares, made a list of resolutions for 2014. On top of the list was a vow to find the time to disconnect from the rest of her responsibilities to share the beautiful moments she craved with her daughter.

Jumana knew she wasn’t alone in wanting pockets of happiness in her daily schedule. Then on New Year’s Day, during a visit to New York, she shared her feelings with her American sister-in-law Linda Al Darwish and the two realised that most families wanted the same thing: the opportunity to do something that made them all happy, if only for 10 minutes every day. And the idea of The Happy Box was born.

Because I’m happy

Launched last month, The Happy Box allows adults to engage with children through activities that are both fun and educational. Every month, for each box, Linda and Jumana design a minimum of eight activities around a certain theme, such as the seasons or special occasions.

Jumana says it was natural to team up with Linda, 50, a mother of two and an educationalist and speech pathologist.

“Linda is in charge of product development. We search for ideas, talk to teachers, research educational activities and products and come up with ideas for the boxes,” says Jumana.

The activities within each box are customised for children between the ages of 2 and 11 and are designed to promote fine-motor skills and cognitive development, always incorporating an educational aspect. Step-by-step

instructions are included, as well as products and materials (all non-toxic) that are sourced from the United States or Europe.

Jumana then mails out the large white box, which is decorated with a confetti-like design of rainbow colours.

“We want to make it a personal experience for each child — we want them to feel happy the minute they open the box, with balloons flying out, bright colours inside and surprises to enjoy. It can brighten up anyone’s day,” she says.

What’s in the box for May?

April’s box, centred around the theme of spring, sold out in two weeks, says Jumana. “We had many activities, from an egg hunt with eco-friendly eggs and designing unique string eggs, to weaving placemats.”

The May box, with the theme art appreciation, is already being mailed out to children across the UAE.

“This box is our way of bringing an understanding, interest and love of the arts to children of all ages,” explains Linda. The featured artist, Wassily Kandinsky, was a simple choice, she says, because abstract art is a perfect way for children to express themselves.

Get yours today

The May edition of The Happy Box is available to order but quantities are limited. To place your order, email info@thehappybox.ae. You can also find thehappyboxdxb on Facebook and Instagram or by visiting www.thehappybox.ae. The price is Dh250 per box; Dh235 per box for three months; Dh220 per box for six months; and Dh200 per box for 12 months. Delivery across the UAE is free and guaranteed within 48 hours. The Happy Box ships interna­tionally (for an additional cost). A smaller version can be ordered as birthday party favours or for special occasions.

artslife@thenational.ae