LEGO has pledged $100 million to Sesame Workshop and a group of organisations working on a humanitarian project to help Syrian and Rohingya refugee children.
The goal of the project is to change the daunting reality for refugee children and help those up to the age of six heal from trauma with play-based learning programmes.
LEGO will provide the sum of $100 million over the course of five years to the creators of Sesame Street to expand its work with the International Rescue Committee in the countries surrounding Syria, and also to partner with the Bangladesh relief organisation BRAC that works with Rohingya refugees.
BRAC, which is working with Sesame Workshop for the first time, has received funding from The LEGO Foundation since 2016, when the foundation funded 240 play labs for marginalised children in Bangladesh, Tanzania and Uganda.
With the forthcoming $100 million grant, BRAC and IRC will partner with Sesame Workshop to expand the humanitarian model of the play labs. It will open an additional 500 play labs by May 2019 starting in Bangladesh and then extending to Syrian response regions.
“The goal of the humanitarian play lab is to build resilience and empower children and their communities,” said director for BRAC University’s Institute of Educational Development, Dr Erum Mariam.
“We have been working with the children over the past 14 months to collect ‘Kabbiya’ (rhymes), physical play activities and ‘Kissa” (stories) so that the humanitarian play lab provides children with self-confidence and pride. The entire model is based on the idea that play heals and play helps children to learn.”
Programmes will teach the basics such as the alphabet and numbers. They will also include social and emotional development to counter the effects of the stress and suffering these children have endured.
As reported by Forbes, we are currently witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record with 68.5 million people around the world that have been forced from their homes. Included in the total number of those displaced are nearly 25.4 million refugees and more than 50 per cent of these are under the age of 18.
“Refugee children are often the most overlooked population in humanitarian crises, and in turn, the most at risk of never overcoming their circumstance during the most crucial time of their growth and development,” said CEO of The LEGO foundation, John Goodwin.
“With this $100 million grant to Sesame Workshop, and their partners including International Rescue Committee, BRAC and NYU, we can provide vital play-based development and support to children in crises.
“This can help mitigate the detrimental, long-term effects of displacement and trauma, ultimately giving a generation of refugee children a path forward.”