The LEGO Group, the LEGO Foundation, and UNICEF have struck up a new partnership to bring learning-through-play to help early years development in children living in disadvantaged regions of China.
The three-year partnership will see around $2.5 million invested in providing resources to family support programmes developed to help caregivers understand the importance of incorporating play into their everyday lives and enhance their capacity to better support young children.
The initiative has been struck up following findings that caregivers and young children in less developed areas interact less, and that disparity exists between urban and rural areas in many aspects of early childhood development, such as the opportunity to develop language.
“UNICEF is working with our partners so that every girl and boy’s rights to health, education and protection are achieved. Upholding these rights in the early years impacts a child’s long-term health, education and well-being. This partnership is important because parents, caregivers and children all have much to gain from play-based learning and positive parenting,” said Cynthia McCaffrey, UNICEF representative to China.
The project will focus on children and their caregivers in 200 disadvantaged rural communities and those with a high proportion of children affected by migration across ten provinces and autonomous regions, including Gansu, Guizhou, Hebei, Hubei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Shanxi, Sichuan and Yunnan.
It is expected to 20,000 children aged 0 to six years old and around 40,000 caregivers will benefit directly through access to better quality community-based family support services, improved parenting practices and behaviors, and use of age-appropriate play materials.
With the support of the LEGO Group, UNICEF will work closely with its national counterpart to empower parents and caregivers to support children’s play and practice playful parenting, as well as build a sustainable and scalable system of community-based services.
In-person training and on-line support will be provided to practitioners, combined with the provision of play materials and online demonstration and mini-classes to guide local practitioners.
Diana Ringe Krogh, head of LEGO Collaboration and Social Ventures at the LEGO Foundation, said: “We aim to build a future in which learning through play empowers all children to become creative, engaged, life-long learners.
“Parents, who are their children’s first playmate, are fundamental to that aim and have the opportunity to provide a head start through learning through play, that can last far beyond the early years.”
Kathrine Kirk Muff, vice president of social responsibility at the LEGO Group, added: “It is our mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, and we believe that every child has the right to play. Parents and caregivers are critical people in a child’s upbringing, their development and wellbeing. And they play a central role in asking for and bringing more learning through play to children every day.
“We envision this partnership as an important step forward in bringing joyful play experiences and early development opportunities to more children-in-need in China.”