The LEGO Foundation and UNICEF support conflict-affected children in Iraq through play
16 December, 2015, Baghdad, Iraq: UNICEF Iraq received a contribution from the LEGO Foundation that will help give around 50,000 children in Iraq a chance to play and learn.
Image credit: UNICEF/Iraq/2015/Khuzaie
The organisation welcomed the contribution of 4,800 boxes containing LEGO play materials. The donation is part of the three-year global partnership between UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation signed in early 2015. Through the partnership, the two organisations promote quality early learning through play for children around the world. While play helps children address stress, it also performs a critical role in the development of the intellectual, emotional, social and creative skills needed to build the foundation for human development and lifelong learning.
Iraq has seen decades of conflict. Currently, nearly 3 million children have had their education disrupted, and nearly 1.5 million are internally displaced. Furthermore, over 100,000 Syrian children have taken refuge in Iraq.
In addition to missing out on structured learning opportunities, continued violence and displacement have put an enormous level of stress on children whose futures are now uncertain. In a situation where the crisis continues with no end in sight, LEGO play materials help to bring hope and a sense of normalcy to children’s lives.
“The negative impact of this crisis on children cannot be over-emphasized,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq. “Continuing violence has cheated millions of children of their fundamental rights to safety, education and play. Many children have come into this world and grown up knowing only displacement and conflict. The donation from the LEGO Foundation is one positive step forward, allowing some of the most disadvantaged children to play and learn in a fun and safe environment and become the next generation to build a better future for Iraq.”
“Play is the most effective and inspiring way for children to acquire the skills needed to create new possibilities and meet the many challenges of the future. In the midst of violence and instability, playing and education can help to alleviate trauma for conflict-affected children,” said Mirjam Schöning, Global Head of Programmes and Partnerships at the LEGO Foundation. “Through play, children can address stress and develop physical, intellectual and social skills, as well as creativity. Together with UNICEF, we work to put a stake in the ground for children and their development through quality play-based learning.”
The LEGO play materials will be distributed to 538 schools, 46 community centres and 8 child-friendly spaces across Iraq, giving over 50,000 children access to learning activities. The LEGO Foundation and UNICEF will provide training to build the capacity of teachers, facilitators and community members who will then guide children through LEGO activities as part of the initiative.
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UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org
About the LEGO Foundation
The LEGO Foundation shares the mission of the LEGO Group: to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. The Foundation is dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re‑imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents, the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play: www.LEGOfoundation.com. Join us on Twitter and Facebook.