Koss will receive the 2013 LEGO Prize at the LEGO Idea Conference award ceremony April 9 in Billund, Denmark.
Right To Play is a global organization that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. Founded in 1985, the LEGO Prize is awarded to individuals and institutions that have made an extraordinary contribution on behalf of children and young people.
“Johann Koss is awarded the LEGO Prize 2013 as recognition of the tremendous impact he has had on children’s lives through his organization, Right To Play,” says Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation and principal shareholder of the family-owned LEGO Group.
“Since 1993 he has been dedicated to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people to a better future using play and sport as a tool for education and health. Right To Play has shared values and overlapping aims with the LEGO Foundation that works to equip and empower children to build a better tomorrow for themselves and their communities through higher quality learning experiences.”
A three-time gold medalist in speed skating at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, it was a trip to the African nation of Eritrea in 1993 as an ambassador for the organization Olympic Aid, where Koss discovered his passion for helping children, and the potential of play to create change.
Founded in 2000, Right To Play reaches one million children through weekly play activities across more than 20 countries. The organization’s programs are designed to respond to the needs of the communities where it operates, and use specially-designed games and play-based learning activities to help children build the essential life skills that will help them better their futures and drive lasting social change.
“Play is not a luxury,” says Koss. “Every child has the right to play, not only because it is fun, but because it is critical to their education and healthy development. We share that belief and commitment to children’s well-being with the LEGO Foundation and the LEGO Group, which has been providing children with play material that help them learn and grow for more than 80 years. It is a great honour to have Right To Play’s work recognized by such an iconic play brand and we are very grateful for this prize.”
Past recipients of the LEGO Prize have included Astrid Lindgren, Paul Newman, Mario Lodi, Dean Kamen, Nicholas Negroponte and such institutions as Associacão Santa Therinha in Brazil, the SaekDong Organisation in Korea, and Papalote Museo del Niño in Mexico City. The LEGO Prize was most recently awarded in 2011 – to Sir Ken Robinson for advocating that schools and teachers throughout the world should inspire creativity in children.
About Right To Play
Right To Play is a global organization that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. Through playing sports and games, Right To Play helps children in more than 20 countries to build essential life skills and better futures, while driving lasting social change. Founded in 2000 by four-time Olympic gold medalist and social entrepreneur Johann Olav Koss, Right To Play is headquartered in Toronto, Canada and has national offices in Canada, the Netherlands, Norway Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Our programs are facilitated by 600 international staff and more than 13,500 volunteer Coaches.
About the LEGO Foundation
The LEGO Foundation was founded in 1986, and it holds 25% of the LEGO Group shares. The activities are based on the belief that all children should have access to quality play and learning experiences. The LEGO Foundation has a goal of creating impact by inspiring and developing children and youth to become active citizens – and to empower them to create a better future for themselves – through fun, creativity and high quality learning.