The 10 Finalists The LEGO Foundation
Reclaiming Children’s Futures
Location: United States
Indigenous people suffer the greatest inequities in the world – including the devastating loss of children to foster care. The Family Spirit programme protects and strengthens parent-child relationships through culturally-grounded home education from pregnancy to age 5 and will be expanded in communities across the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The team aims to add to its impact with natured-based family play spaces to promote the power of playing together as well as reinforcing Indigenous family traditions.
Children struggle to thrive when they’re growing up in a violent home. Responsible, Engaged And Loving (REAL) Fathers is a government-endorsed positive parenting programme. Mentors coach parents in play and nonviolent discipline – which in turn helps children in Uganda grow up healthier and happier. IIDC and its partners aim to adapt REAL across more local cultures, train more community-based mentors and help local government track the project’s impact.
Early Assistive Technology Access
Location: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Indonesia
Millions of children with disabilities are barred from their right to play because they lack access to life-changing assistive technology such as wheelchairs or hearing aids.
Only a fraction of them get the products and services they need, largely through charitable donations. The Clinton Health Access Initiative aims to transform play for disabled children in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
It will support governments to implement policies that integrate screening, early access to assistive technology, and play therapy into health facilities and schools.
Location: South Africa
a 11% of South Africa’s population is under the age of five. Children and their caregivers living in remote areas often miss out on early childhood development (ECD) initiatives.
So IRD Global and its partners aim to co-create playhouses in rural South Africa. They’ll focus on pre-school classes for young children, as well as day care and mental health services for caregivers and other community members. And they’ll train local women, particularly grandmothers (gogos), on ECD to extend reach into communities nearby.
Empowering Rural Communities
Location: Ghana and Uganda
Play Schemes put sustainable early development back into the hands of local communities. Lively Minds and their partners work with government to train caregivers from deprived rural areas of Ghana and Uganda in teaching pre-schoolers. The programme uses low-cost games and a structured curriculum to help little ones get a positive start in life - improving learning, wellbeing and hygiene levels. Monthly workshops and weekly radio broadcasts also empower parents – especially marginalised, illiterate mothers – with simple, free ways to boost their children’s learning and development at home. Lively Minds, IFS and the Education Commission want to scale up the project in more hard-to-reach communities.
Play and Language Through Visual Learning
Location: United States and Thailand
a 95% of Deaf and hard of hearing children are born to hearing parents who struggle to communicate with their child because they don’t know sign language and aren’t aware of their child’s visual communication needs. When deaf children miss out on crucial language acquisition in their early years of life it has a lifelong impact on their academic, social and physical health. Motion Light Lab and the SKI-HI Institute are partnering to end language deprivation by mentoring parents and providing play-based resources and support to help families develop healthy communication with their children.
Community-Led Learning Through Play for Refugee Children
Location: Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Malawi, and Malaysia
Refugee children face a challenging start to life – exposed to loss and trauma early on. Nearly a third never enrol at primary school.
Cohere partners with refugee-led organisations (RLOs), supporting them with tools to bring early education to communities – such as installing software on locally-made tablets.
They’ve also built a platform for RLOs to share their work. They plan to develop a text-message course for caregivers supporting children’s social and emotional skills.
Location: Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda
Africa’s youngest learners are missing out on early education. Caregivers lack the knowledge and resources to support them – believing play is disruptive, and learning starts at school. Ubongo creates and distributes locally relevant learning resources through TV, radio, digital and mobile to 31 million families across 23 countries in Africa.
It plans to scale the Akili Family programme to bring play-based resources to family’s homes.
Leverage Box: Game 4 All
Turkey is host to the world’s largest refugee population. But refugee children aged 0-6 with special needs have little access to education services, since compulsory formal education doesn’t include early childhood education or the pre-school system’.
Leverage Gap: Game 4 All aims to bridge the gap with wellbeing and development centres for children aged 2-6 focusing on play therapy.
They’ll base them in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Gaziantep, Adana and Mersin, near the communities that need them most.
Care to Play
Nearly 90% of Indian children are born into families that struggle with poverty. So time to play and learn with little ones is minimal – just 30 minutes a day at most. Care to Play is a partnership between Indus Action, Saajha, Trickle Up, Rocket Learning and IDinsight. By working with parent engagement groups, supporting access to welfare rights and building on government pre-school systems, it aims to bring early childhood education – and a pathway out of poverty – to five million vulnerable children.