LEGO Foundation awards $100 million funding for PlayMatters scheme

As the charity continues to promote play for every child around the world, the LEGO Foundation has awarded a $100 million grant to the International Rescue Committee’s PlayMatters initiative.

The LEGO Foundation and International Rescue Committee (IRC) have announced that the charity will donate $100 million to the organisation to support the PlayMatters programme. The initiative will promote play-based, early learning solutions for pre-primary and primary school aged children impacted by the humanitarian crises in East Africa and living in Ethiopia and Uganda.

“We are contributing to fulfil the international promise to children, supported by the United Nations, that every child has the right to an education and every refugee should be included in sustainable long-term solutions that help them in their future. We have to do our best to ensure it is realised,” says Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation. “Play provides comfort. It helps children to overcome traumatic experiences, and to return to the routine and normalcy of being a child. With this new grant, the LEGO Foundation continues to address a pressing challenge of our time and change the way the world thinks about learning through play and its importance for children in crisis settings.”

The IRC and its partners will initially work in Ethiopia and Uganda, with the potential of expanding to a third country in East Africa. PlayMatters will improve education outcomes for approximately 800,000 children by working with 10,000 educators and 170,000 primary caregivers, who will receive training to engage in learning through play with children who have faced adversities.

“Children in these humanitarian crises did not choose to be refugees and it is unacceptable that an entire generation is deprived of quality childhood education. We know that investing in play-based learning interventions is key to addressing toxic stress and trauma for young children in refugee settings as learning through play helps to develop social and emotional skills, builds resilience, and strengthens brain connections essential for future development,” says said John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation. “Through this new initiative, we will work with teachers in the host communities, focus on innovation to ensure systemic and lasting impact, and share these approaches across aid agencies for replication. The children in these largely forgotten crises in Ethiopia and Uganda deserve the power of learning through play and the hope that it can bring for a bright future.”

The grant sees the LEGO Foundation increasing its investment in learning though play for children who have been affected by conflict, following the $100 million grant awarded to Sesame Workshop in December 2018.

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Graham was the Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education. Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.

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