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UNICEF Corporate and Philanthropic Partnerships

The LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation


Since 2015, the LEGO Group, the LEGO Foundation and UNICEF have been collaborating to improve children’s lives through the promotion of quality early learning through play and through leaving a positive impact on children via the Children’s Rights and Business Principles.

Children’s Rights and Business Principles

The LEGO Group is partnering with UNICEF to jointly promote the Children’s Rights and Business Principles – a 10-point charter that sets out actions companies can take to respect and support children’s rights. In this three-year partnership, the LEGO Group has pledged to strengthen the governance of child protection in its own business – in both their off and online operations - and share best practices with others in the corporate world.

The LEGO Group’s implementation of the Children’s Rights and Business Principles focuses on using the principles to ensure that children’s rights are respected through the LEGO Group’s core business; increase accountability to children within the LEGO Group; and share best practices that illustrate for other companies how and where children’s rights are relevant and can be both respected and supported by businesses.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2006-1393/Pirozzi

The importance of Play and Early Childhood Development

Because of poor health, undernutrition and poor learning environments that fail to provide adequate responsive stimulation, an estimated 200 million children under 5 around the world are not developing their learning capacities, entering school late, performing poorly at school and not achieving their full potential. What happens during the early years is of crucial importance for every child’s development.

Acknowledging the positive and long-term impact of investing in the early years, the LEGO Foundation has joined UNICEF global efforts with a financial contribution of US$ 8.2 million to support early childhood development programmes with a focus on play over 3.5 years.

Play is a fundamental aspect to learning through which children develop the physical, intellectual, emotional, social and creative skills needed to build the foundation for human development and lifelong learning.
The partnership between the LEGO Foundation and UNICEF promotes quality early learning through play for children around the world focusing on three areas:

• Global advocacy to set the global agenda around education, early childhood learning and development, and the importance of play.
• Strengthen the connection between early learning and play in UNICEF programmes and piloting of new metrics to increase data and knowledge related to ECD and early learning through play.
• Ensure that play is an integral part of government policies, ECD curricula and programmes in South Africa.

Thanks to the support of the LEGO Foundation, the partnership is targeting stakeholders ranging from governments and policy makers to teachers and parents – with an ultimate goal of empowering children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners through play.

© 2015/UNICEF/ Sudeshan Reddy

Towards sustainable, systemic change in South Africa

Poverty and inequality have profound negative impacts on children's developmental outcomes, and more intensely for younger children. In South Africa, where poverty levels are high (55.7% among children under 18) and is one of the most unequal societies in the world (GINI coefficient 0.65 in 2011), the need for comprehensive early childhood development services and programming is more imperative.

Thanks to the partnership with the LEGO Foundation, the South African government is working on changing  policies and programmes and has included play-based learning as a fundamental principle in the National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy, bringing play-based learning into classrooms and pre-school facilities nationwide. The partnership in South Africa  has the potential to benefit 3 million children under 10 who are receiving support and care from parents, caregivers and educators who have been taught to understand and use play as a tool for stimulation and learning.

© UNICEFUkraine/2015/Hetman

Play as a strategy to alleviate trauma and stress of conflict affected children

UNICEF figures show that globally one in 11 children aged 6 or younger has spent the most critical period of brain development growing up in conflict. Emergency settings pose a multitude of risks to young children and their families, and can have adverse effects on young children’s development.

Play can be a powerful strategy to help children establish routines and regain a sense of normalcy, as well as to help build young child’s resilience. Furthermore, play can contribute in the long term to build more peaceful societies.

Since 2015, the LEGO Foundation has made an in-kind contribution of LEGO play materials and trained practitioners and staff to support play as a strategy to alleviate trauma and stress reaching over 320,000 conflict-affected children in Ukraine, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey and Jordan.  

About the LEGO Group

The LEGO Group is a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark. The company is owned by the Kirk Kristiansen family who founded it in 1932. The LEGO Group is engaged in the development of children's creativity through play and learning. Based on the world-famous LEGO® brick, the company today provides toys, experiences and teaching materials for children in more than 140 countries. The head office is in Billund, Denmark.

About the LEGO Foundation

The LEGO Foundation aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow; a mission that it shares with the LEGO Group. The LEGO Foundation is dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play.





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