Red Arrow Workshop’s toy selection offers socially responsible opportunities for child development. By Kari Walker

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hape's All Seasons dollhouse is built from wood and eco-friendly
to the core with solar panels on the roof.

Red Arrow Workshop in River Ranch is known for its locally produced jewelry, art and Parish Ink shirts, but beyond these racks is a magical place for children filled with some pretty amazing toys. Jillian Johnson, co-owner of Red Arrow Workshop and Parish Ink, stocks children’s toys made in the United States, by socially responsible manufacturers or sustainable companies because she believes in these missions and their importance in the consumer marketplace and on the shelves of playrooms in Acadiana.

“The people of Lafayette have the vision for what we are doing,” says Johnson.

On a daily basis customers come in her store for that reason.

A majority of the toys in the shop are wooden, and many come from the manufacturer Hape, one of the world’s leading producers of toys made from sustainable materials.

The Hape line prides itself on strict standards of quality, collaborative global thinking and responsible ecology. The German company believes toys, like its Happy Family house, should inspire creativity, learning and exploration of our world.

Plastic, electronic toys are often noisy, overstimulating and may do all the thinking for the child. Video games and apps cannot replace exploration, which enhances fine motor development. “There’s a reason why kids played with simple toys. They tap into the imagination — they make you happy,” Johnson says.

Wood toys stand the test of time and will be ready for future children or even grandchildren. An added bonus: many of these beautifully crafted pieces could easily be displays on a desk or coffee table — by no means an eyesore for the design-savvy family.

For the language fans, Johnson’s workshop also carries an assortment of colorful ABC blocks in English, French, and even Braille and Sign Language. If academia is more your speed, check out the Periodic Table of Elements or the presidential blocks that turn into the U.S. flag.

What begins as exploration for baby can easily turn into help during the high school years and continue to make learning fun. When purchasing products from socially responsible companies with sustainable ethics, consumers can feel confident about the impact on our planet and their children’s lives.

It’s easy to see how simplicity in pretend-play evokes learning experiences irreplaceable by electronics.

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