World News

The Lego Foundation awards $100m to Sesame Workshop

Published on: December 6th, 2018

The award is to bring the power of learning through play to children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises.

Working in partnership with BRAC, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and New York University’s Global TIES for Children, Sesame Workshop will reach children affected by crises in Bangladesh and the Syrian response region with early childhood and play-based learning opportunities.

The $100m grant from the Lego Foundation will benefit some of the world’s most vulnerable children and call attention to the critical importance of learning through play to set them on a path of healthy growth and development. The Lego Foundation is the first to step up and meet the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s call for the bold philanthropy needed to transform the way the humanitarian system serves children affected by crisis in early childhood.

The scale of the global refugee crisis is staggering—today, 68.5m people are displaced worldwide. Among them are 25m refugees, half of whom are children. As refugees experience displacement for an average of 10 years, millions of children are spending a significant part of their childhoods without access to adequate early childhood development opportunities. Adverse experiences like displacement can affect young children’s developing brains, with lasting effects on health and wellbeing. Engaging in play-based activities with responsive caregivers can help mitigate the detrimental, long term effects of displacement and trauma, ultimately giving children affected by conflict the skills they need to thrive into adulthood and rebuild their communities.

Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, chairman of the Lego Foundation Board and 4th generation owner of the Lego Group, commented: “This partnership marks the first step of the Lego Foundation’s commitment to work within the humanitarian field to support children’s holistic development that incorporates learning through play. We hope to inspire other funders, humanitarian actors, world leaders and governments to act and urgently prioritise support for play-based early childhood development for children in humanitarian crises—a vastly overlooked but vital component in the progress of humanitarian aid. We hope that young children impacted by these crises will have opportunities to benefit from learning through play and also develop the skills needed for them to thrive in the future.”

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