Bernadett Eigner
Ashoka Fellow since 1995   |   Hungary

Bernadett Eigner

Mikkamakka / Kapcsolatszervíz
Bernadett Eigner is introducing "community-based playrooms" in Hungary to promote early childhood development generally and, more specifically, to advance methods of play therapy for…
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This description of Bernadett Eigner's work was prepared when Bernadett Eigner was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.


Bernadett Eigner is introducing "community-based playrooms" in Hungary to promote early childhood development generally and, more specifically, to advance methods of play therapy for children with special needs.

The New Idea

The network of playrooms has approximately a thousand visitors yearly. The program is internationally acclaimed – it represents Hungary in the International Toy Library Association. The playrooms organize integrated play groups where healthy kids with average development can play together with disabled kids and their parents – under the supervision and with the help of specially trained professionals. The multifaceted model of ‘integrative playing’ used in these playrooms involves different forms of therapy and guidance.

Bernadett plans to build a nationwide network of playrooms and to work out a national strategy for early childhood development as well as participating in its implementation.

The Problem

At present, there is no national strategy in Hungary that focuses on early childhood development and education; hence potential traumas in early childhood do not get enough attention. The early recognition of parent-child relationship problems and educational problems and the early treatment of the diversities in social, mental or cognitive development positively influence the child’s undisturbed development and a harmonious family life. Today, there is no institution that specifically operates in this area, which is why the existence of integrative, community-based playrooms with a supportive care system and therapy services are so important in Hungary.

The Strategy

After the Mikkamakka integrative community-based playrooms started in 1997 there were already three working playrooms and Bernadett succeeded in opening a methodology centre. In 2000, with the support of the Ministry of Social and Family Affairs, a national program was launched to build a network of playrooms all across the country, but unfortunately this has been discontinued due to personal and political attitudes. There are eight active playrooms in Hungary at the present, with professional programs, publications, training programs and books. This network of integrative community-based playrooms is still a unique initiative within the existing care system.

The Person

Bernadett Eigner has always worked with people, children, parents and families – she is interested in people’s problems. She offers help through understanding, attention and cooperation. She believes in the power of playing and advocates a playful and humorous approach encouraging subjects to laugh about themselves. She experienced in her own environment and family how easily communication can go wrong creating misunderstanding and tension. This is what she would like to remedy somehow.

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