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IKEA Soft Toys embrace children’s right to education

© IKEA/2009
Sales of IKEA cuddly toys will benefit UNICEF and partner Save the Children.

NEW YORK, USA, 6 November 2009 – This holiday season it will once again be possible to give the gift that gives back. IKEA soft toys are now on sale, and proceeds will continue to help support global UNICEF and Save the Children education programmes.

From 1 November to 24 December, the IKEA Social Initiative will donate €1 for every soft toy sold in IKEA stores worldwide. IKEA Soft Toys will support the ‘Schools for Africa’ campaign in six countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, South Africa and Madagascar), as well as education and protection projects in China and Russia.

This is the fifth year of the campaign, which has raised a total of €16.7 million to support 40 programmes in more than 20 countries. IKEA has gone the extra mile with this year’s campaign under the slogan, ‘One euro is a fortune, a child's smile is worth so much’.

Soft Toys website

This year’s campaign includes the launch of a fun, interactive website called Soft Toys AID. On the site, the IKEA Soft Toys get together to sing for a better world, and everyone is invited to join them in an attempt to create the world's biggest choir.

Since 2003, IKEA Soft Toy campaigns have generated about $24 million to support 40 programmes in more than 20 countries.

The IKEA Social Initiative is UNICEF's biggest corporate partner, with commitments of more than $180 million. For more than 10 years, IKEA has supported UNICEF and children’s rights through community investments, advocacy, philanthropy, humanitarian assistance, sales of UNICEF greeting cards, cause-related marketing promotions and in-kind assistance.

© UNICEF Tajikistan/Sodiqov / 2009
Sport is among the various extracurricular activities motivating girls to continue their education at School No.20 in Tajikistan’s Vakhsh District, one of 15 schools in the country currently benefitting from UNICEF and the IKEA Social Initiative.

The mission of the IKEA Social Initiative is to improve the lives of children by fighting for their right to a healthy and secure childhood with access to quality education.

Schools for Africa

Schools for Africa promotes UNICEF’s holistic, child-friendly schools programme and is the designated beneficiary of this year’s Soft Toy Campaign.
Achieving universal primary education has proven difficult in Africa. In 2006, almost half of the estimated 75 million children not in school worldwide were in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2009. The Schools for Africa partnership, which is backed by 26 UNICEF national committees along with major corporate donors such IKEA, hopes to markedly alter the trend.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and former South African President Nelson Mandela launched Schools for Africa in Cape Town in 2004, and he continues to support the initiative.

Conducive to learning

In the Khatlon District in Tajikistan, the Vakhsh District School No. 20 is one of 15 schools throughout the country currently benefiting from initiatives supported by UNICEF with funding from the IKEA Social Initiative and, specifically, the Soft Toys Campaign. The aim is to make them more child-friendly by creating a school environment conducive to learning.

“This is the first time pupils have seen new books in this school, let alone movies and cartoons,” said school headmaster Sadriddin Akhmedov. “The last time we received a new book was probably 20 years ago.”

With support from UNICEF and the IKEA Social Initiative, the 15 schools have benefited from new furniture, sports equipment, quality games and resource books. In addition, many teachers in these schools have been trained in interactive teaching methods suited to each child’s age, abilities and style of learning.

Friendly to all children

Creating schools that are Child- and Girl-Friendly is another mission that the IKEA Soft Toys Campaign has been able to support UNICEF in accomplishing.

Funds from the campaign will continue to support these efforts and more, including improving school facilities, access to water and toilets, providing school benches, desks and educational supplies like books, pencils, and writing pads for children and teachers.

The cuddly, soft toys will bring countless smiles to the faces of so many children as a holiday gift, but will also bring smiles to vulnerable children worldwide who are eager to learn and thrive.

Amy Bennett contributed to this story from New York.



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