Horse-themed toy aims to build leadership skills in girls


raina-toyTwo sisters who have developed a horse-themed educational toy to build leadership skills in girls are seeking $US150,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to bring the product to market.

They hope that online support, being sought through the Indiegogo platform, will help get Raina to the Rescue! into full production and on sale.

They have already raised nearly $US46,000 of their target. The campaign, which started late last month, is set to close on October 27.

Marisa Banigan and her older sister, Mia Godbout, say women represent more than half the workforce and earn more than 50 percent of college degrees, but only 4 percent of Fortune 500 companies are led by women and only 18 percent of government positions are filled by women.

Most women do not receive formal leadership training until they are in their 40s, said the sisters, who were born, raised and educated in Rhode Island.

“We believe, along with a number of leadership experts, that leadership training should begin much earlier in development,” Marisa and Mia said in their pitch on Indiegogo.

“Looking around the toy aisle today, girls’ choices are not only limited, but limiting! Because play matters. Toys help to define a child’s view of society and develop important skillsets – and that is why we developed Raina to the Rescue!,” they said.

It is billed as an educational toy for girls ages 6 to 10 that aims to teach leadership skills. It combines a storybook with a toy horse and other props to complete the package.

The first story is about a girl named Raina and her friends, all of whom are animal lovers. They visit a stable where there is a horse with a hurt leg.

Raina and her friends leap into action to help the horse and complete various activities with tools supplied with the toy. Girls are also able to incorporate their own toys along the way to help the horse get better.

Girls read along and problem-solve with Raina and her friends, learning lessons and skills along the way. Tasks include analyzing an x-ray, applying a splint and creating a cast.

“Girls have stronger verbal skills early in development, naturally drawing them to stories and reading,” Marisa and Mia explain.

“Girls don’t just want to complete an activity, they want to understand why and who is being affected.

The sisters said they were ready to get Raina into the hands of girls around the world.

“We have tested our prototype at schools, refined our story and design and partnered with a leading toy manufacturer.”

There are plans to produce 5000 units in the first production run – the smallest order size possible.

“We are ready to launch. We have done the research, invested all of our savings and called in every favor we could to get this far.”

If they hit a longer-term goal of $US300,000, they plan to develop a free e-book version of the storybook.

The sisters are adamant that the project is no “one trick pony”.

“No way. We have our next story and activity set prototyped and ready for testing and are ready to create a series of adventures for Raina and the Rescue Crew.

“We intend to cover more skillsets to arm your little leader, like communications, decision-making and strategy.”

Their crowdfunding page on Indiegogo can be found here.

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