The LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation
A UNICEF corporate partner since 2015
Since 2015, the LEGO Foundation, the LEGO Group and UNICEF have been empowering children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners through play. Through the influence, reach and investment of our three organizations, we seek to embed play in classrooms, households and communities around the world, creating an environment that allows children to develop their full potential, including the academic and life skills needed to thrive in the 21st century.
We are also working together to implement and advocate for the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, so that we can create an environment that enables overall child well-being and playful and safe learning.
We are committed to driving transformational change for children, families and their communities at scale, within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The LEGO Foundation supports UNICEF programmes with US$28 million:
- To scale Learning through Play through teacher training programmes across the curriculum, facilitating quality learning and skills in Rwanda and South Africa.
- To scale up Playful Parenting programmes using existing delivery platforms with a focus on engaging ministries of education and other relevant ministries in Serbia and Zambia.
- Distributing LEGO Play Boxes to empower children’s Learning through Play in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey.
- COVID-19 response: The LEGO Foundation has assigned US$2 million to UNICEF to support parents and communities to provide care and playful learning opportunities.
Why learning through play?
- Play is a child’s right, but it is also a critical form of stimulation that boosts children’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development. Play-based learning helps children become collaborative, creative and curious – essential abilities for life and work in the 21st century.
- Children are intrinsically motivated to play, which makes it fertile ground for learning and developing new skills. During play, children can take charge, making choices about what they do and how. Play can be a highly social activity, allowing for opportunities to learn from and about others. Thus, play can provide many opportunities for learning.
- Success in tomorrow’s world will undoubtedly be built on a new mix of academic knowledge – in science or the arts for example – and character-based or life skills – such as communication, creativity and problem-solving – so children and adults remain adaptable and resilient in a changing world.
- Play, as a means to promote optimal child development, is equally important for all children, including those children living in poverty or affected by crises who may lack access to safe, playful experiences. Play provides comfort to children and can help them establish routine, regain a sense of normalcy and build resilience.
- This is why we want educators and practitioners working with infants and children to be able to facilitate learning through play. We also want parents and caregivers – the key architects of a child’s early environment – to use the power of learning through play to give children the best possible start in life.
What we’re doing in play
- Building on existing work in South Africa over the last four years, where we trained teachers on learning through play, the LEGO Foundation and UNICEF aim to fundamentally redefine the meaning of teaching and learning in the period from birth to nine years old. The overall goal of our work in South Africa is to integrate learning through play throughout a child’s education, facilitating quality learning and skills for a changing world. Through capacity building and evidence generation, we are working with the Department of Basic Education in South Africa to embed learning through play in the national education system.
- We are also partnering to help increase understanding of the benefits of playful and responsive parenting in Serbia and Zambia, to advocate for better policies to support healthy brain development in early childhood and accelerate the scale-up of the most effective interventions. We are working with the governments of Serbia and Zambia on strengthening caregivers' and parents' capacity to provide early stimulation, play and responsive care. This includes training a skilled workforce across relevant sectors, enhancing community-based models, and testing new approaches to promote caregivers' health and emotional well-being.
- We collaborate on the #EarlyMomentsMatter campaign to raise awareness about the importance of nutrition, protection and stimulation, including play, for healthy brain development in the earliest years of life, and to support parents and caregivers to give their children the best start in life.
- Recognizing play as an important means to help children affected by crises, we collaborate on practitioner trainings and in-kind contributions of LEGO play materials to provide psycho-social support.
- We work closely to promote the Children’s Rights and Business Principles – a comprehensive set of principles to guide companies on the full range of actions they can take in the workplace, marketplace and community to respect and support children’s rights.
- Together we aim to leverage our combined global presence and brand power in 190 countries, including the 100 million families the LEGO Group reaches in 140 countries, to promote the importance of investing in learning through play to equip children with the 21st-century skills they need to thrive.
What we've already done in play
Since 2015, we have made significant strides towards embedding learning through play at the policy level, while addressing critical issues that support children’s well-being and ability to play safely.
- Thanks to this partnership, the South African government has adopted play-based learning as a fundamental principle and is developing policies to bring play-based learning into classrooms and pre-school facilities nationwide. More than 1 million South African children have been reached through the capacity-building of 150,000 teachers and 100 district officials on the implementation of play as part of stimulation, early learning and development. This means that the children will be better equipped to develop a variety of skills to serve them and their communities.
- The LEGO Foundation and UNICEF have also increased understanding of how adults can engage in more playful interactions with children and increase their capacity to stimulate learning through play. In Paraguay, for example, we rolled out an enhanced version of the Care for Child Development package through municipal authorities and three national programmes. We also designed the Caring for the Caregiver training package, which aims to strengthen the capacity of frontline workers to promote and support the emotional well-being of parents and caregivers. The package will be further validated and tested in several countries in 2020, including Serbia and Zambia.
- Together, the LEGO Foundation, the LEGO Group and UNICEF introduced play as a means to provide psycho-social support to conflict-affected children. Since 2015, the LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation has donated LEGO® PLAY Boxes and helped to train practitioners and staff reaching around 500,000 vulnerable and conflict-affected children in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Ukraine.
- The LEGO Group has partnered with UNICEF to promote the Children’s Rights and Business Principles – a ten-point charter that sets out actions that companies can take to respect and support children’s rights – thereby creating enabling environments that support child well-being. Key achievements have included:
- Introducing an industry-first Digital Child Safety Policy to secure the safety and welfare of children interacting with LEGO digital products, channels and experiences.
- Co-creating the Child Online Safety Assessment tool, enabling the wider industry to understand and gauge their efforts in addressing children’s rights online.
- Developing a Child Safeguarding Policy aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of children engaged directly by LEGO employees and strategic partners on our behalf, plus training modules and a monitoring framework.
- Working together to inform UNICEF’s child safeguarding toolkit.
- Strengthening the LEGO Group’s Responsible Marketing to Children Standard to better reflect new online realities.
- Working together to develop family-friendly workplace principles with a view to help safeguard the best interest of the child in all business operations and recognize the impact of workplace policies on parents' and caregivers' ability to fulfil their family responsibilities.
- We have also advocated for play. In South Africa, the Ministry of Basic Education, with the support of UNICEF and LEGO Foundation, have worked to promote the importance of learning through play through critical-thinking forums, advocacy and communication campaigns, and national conferences on the subject in 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2019, the Ministry of Basic Education, in partnership with UNICEF, the LEGO Foundation and ADEA, hosted the first-ever African Conference on Play, bringing together stakeholders from across the continent.
- Launched in January 2017, UNICEF’s campaign, #EarlyMomentsMatter, has energized the conversation around parenting, driving advocacy at global and national levels. Bolstered by support from 144 UNICEF offices worldwide, these successes are the cumulative result of various campaign activities, including the annual flagship Father’s Day and Parenting Month public activations (featuring co-created play assets), the development of UNICEF Parenting, and the execution of multiple high-level advocacy events such as the launch of the Global Report on ECD, and coordination of communication and advocacy efforts for the Africa Play Conference, all of which were bolstered by the ECD Action Network, serving as a unifying voice for ECD advocates.
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 redefining play and reimagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents, the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play.
Last updated 22 November 2021