The LEGO Group and LEGO Foundation have joined forces to address the critical needs of children as the globe continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, including a $50m donation to kids most in need and the launch of the #letsbuildtogether campaign.
The initiatives have been established to aid all children, from the most vulnerable in refugee camps and war-torn countries, to those currently waiting out a community quarantine.
The LEGO Foundation has donated $50m to support children in need and ensure they have access to learning through play. The donation will be split between three groups of partners, including Education Cannot Wait – a charity that provides education for children caught in emergencies; a selection of existing LEGO Foundation partners whose work is under pressure from COVID-19; and charity partners serving communities where the LEGO Group has a significant presence.
Niels B Christiansen, CEO, the LEGO Group, said: “We know it is difficult that children are away from their classrooms and their regular learning environments. We want to help parents and families do their best and we know that when children play, they learn.
“They learn life-long skills such as collaboration, communication and problem solving. We’re committed to continuing to support, develop and inspire children through this tumultuous time.”
John Goodwin, CEO, the LEGO Foundation, added: “We cannot let COVID-19 setback a generation of children. Research shows that while learning through play is vital for children’s psychological, emotional and cognitive health and development, it also hones the resilience they need to overcome adversity and build their futures.
“We must support all children, including the most vulnerable in society, to ensure they continue to have access to education and develop skills critical for them to thrive in a constantly changing world. We are honoured to be able to collaborate and support Education Cannot Wait and our other partners who are working extremely hard in unforgiving circumstances to bring education, hope and a future to the most vulnerable children.”
This latest donation adds to the $212 million in grants the LEGO Foundation has made during the past 18 months to bring learning through play to children affected by crises. This includes a US$100 million grant awarded to International Rescue Committee and its consortium of partners in December 2019; a $12.5 million grant awarded to Education Cannot Wait in September 2019 and US$100 million grant awarded to Sesame Workshop in December 2018.
Yasmine Sherif, Education Cannot Wait Director, said: “We are grateful that the LEGO Foundation has stepped forward as the first private sector partner to contribute to our COVID-19 response. This generous donation will allow Education Cannot Wait to scale up its support of a coordinated response among governments, UN agencies and civil society organisations to bring a glimmer of hope to children of all ages in the most crisis-affected countries in the world.
“Learning must continue in the midst of the pandemic. The LEGO Foundation’s commitment to learning through play is a shining example of what’s possible and we encourage more philanthropic, private sector and government donor partners to come forward.”
Meanwhile, LEGO has established a second initiative, inspired by the impact of the crisis on children’s education and following estimates from UNESCO that over 160 countries have implemented nationwide school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Figures suggest that more than 1.5bn school-aged children are currently out of school.
To address this, LEGO has assembled its designers, STEM gurus, creatives, and play experts to come up with new ways to provide play-based learning ideas to children and parents. The firm hopes to alleviate some of the strain and stress for families while keeping children engaged and curious.
As a result, LEGO has developed its www.LEGO.com/letsbuildtogether and launched #letsbuildtogether across its social channels as a way to share building ideas, daily challenges set by LEGO designers, retro builds, and live build-a-longs with fans everywhere.
Play experts from the LEGO Foundation will also share ways to inspire learning through all types of play which will help children develop life-long skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving while out of school.
The hope is that while communities may not be able to meet physically, they can connect, share their creativity and inspire each other.
Julia Goldin, chief marketing officer, the LEGO Group, said: “We’ve been amazed by the creativity shown by children and adults around the world while they stay at home. We’re grateful for the calls, emails and messages from fans who say LEGO play is helping to comfort them.
“It’s more important than ever that we find ways to stay connected, supported and inspired in order to safeguard our health and wellbeing. Play is a great way to do this, and we want to support LEGO fans of all ages to build and play.
“The amazing team at the LEGO Group came up with the idea for #letsbuildtogether as a way to offer support and inspiration to parents as they face the challenge of keeping children engaged and educated at home while juggling their own work and wellbeing.”
David Pallash, LEGO Play Agent, concluded: “With many parents worried about juggling work with childcare and schooling, play could be one of the easiest, and most fun ways of supporting a child’s education and development. Children say they learn best when activities feel like play, while nine in 10 parents feel that play helps their child develop key skills such as resilience, collaboration, creativity and communication.
“Not only is play essential to a child’s development, but it benefits the whole family too. Parents say that playing with their child is good for their own wellbeing and happiness and importantly in tough times, it also helps them relax and connect with their children.”