By NICOLE PELLETIERE, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A Virginia mom created her own toy company to help children learn about Black history with the intent of teaching them about far beyond slavery and the civil rights movement.
Tiffney Laing, of Ashburn, Virginia, launched Bevy and Dave in 2016 to help parents and educators explore Black history through the lens of leadership, rather than oppression.
“When you understand the experiences of African Americans and Black people around the world, if you’re going to study the oppression, you also have to talk about how they were able to succeed beyond that,” Laing told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “I feel like children should be inspired by Black History and not be depressed by it.”
“Can you imagine constantly being told something negative and never following up with something positive?” Laing added. “It does something to the spirit.”
Laing, a mother to 9-year-old Beverly, was formerly working in higher education as an administrator and professor of leadership studies. She was also enrolled in a doctoral program and researched how children learn Black history. Laing said she left the program to develop solutions to the problem rather than continue to study it.
Laing said she did online research in 2015 after noticing she couldn’t find toys for her daughter that celebrated Black leaders. She then went to a trade show where she met manufacturers and found a designer who could help her bring to life toys that would teach children what school textbooks failed to share.
The first Bevy and Dave toy, a wooden puzzle block set, came out on Oct. 14, 2016. Additionally, there are now three wooden puzzles that celebrate Black inventors and leaders like Carter G. Woodson, who is often credited for creating Black History Month.
The toys are designed for preschool through elementary students.
“Those are impressionable years. Our job as adults is to do the very best of helping children see the best in themselves–encourage and empower them,” Laing said. “If we really want to get past those racial barriers, we [also] have to share the beauty of everyone’s contributions. As they get a little older and they start to connect to their heritage, country and learn about diff ethnic groups, they will see through a lens that will be helpful and not hurtful.”
Laing was awarded $5,000 as part of GMA3’s “The Second Act Showdown” in 2020 to help expand her business.
Laing said she has four new products launching this year and recently partnered with the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, to provide Bevy and Dave toys for children who live in women’s shelters who are victims of domestic violence.
Laing said she will also be offering a free, virtual workshop to teach Black history to these children.
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