We believe every child should have an opportunity to achieve their potential. Play nurtures and develops the breadth of skills children need to thrive and to solve problems creatively while boosting confidence and resilience. The LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation work together to be a global force for Learning through Play bringing play to children in need in our communities around the world.
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Reaching more children with Learning through Play
- 2019 result1,860,000children reached
- 2020 result3,229,390children reached
- 2021 result3,513,924children reached2022 target6,000,000children reached
Supporting children and families in Ukraine
During 2022, the LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation have provided support to families and children affected by the war in Ukraine:
- DKK 110 million (USD 15 million) donated with the Ole Kirk Foundation in March to support UNICEF, Save the Children and Danish Red Cross.
- 240 refugee children per day visited playrooms established by our employees in Hungary during the month of April.
- Our warehouse space in Hungary was also given to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for one month for food and goods.
- 300+ employees took advantage of additional time off to volunteer collecting relief items and donating toys.
- DKK 4.3 million (USD 554,000), together with the LEGO Foundation, was allocated to support NGOs partners working with Ukrainian children.
- USD 1.9 million (DKK 14 million) donated to UNHCR establishment of 29 ‘Blue Dot safe space protection and support hubs’ to provide children and families with critical information and services such as psychosocial support and legal aid.
Building big feelings
Big world events can mean big feelings, and with only 6% of the vocabulary of adults, small children can’t always find the words to express big emotions*.
To help children and families make sense of their emotions, we developed a simple activity – called ‘Build Big Feelings’.
Empowering parents and caregiversOur programme ‘Prescription for Play’ is for U.S.-based healthcare providers who see 18- to 36-month-old patients. The aim is to develop parental and caregiver understanding of the benefits of Learning through Play. During routine paediatric visits, families receive a LEGO® DUPLO® brick kit and educational brochure on the importance of play, encouraging them to spend time playing with their children. In the first six months of 2022, we’ve received orders for 550,000 kits and have introduced mandatory training for all participating health care providers and established continuing medical education credit for additional training.
Due to the success of the U.S. programme, we’re beginning to roll out this programme in China. In total, we aim to reach at least 1.25 million families in 2022.
Build to GiveFor many people around the world, the holiday season is a time for joy and togetherness, but for a lot of families it can be a challenging period.
For the sixth consecutive year, we will encourage fans and families to get creative and give the gift of play to a child in need, simply by building a festive creation out of LEGO® bricks.
For every creation shared on social media using the hashtag #BuildToGive or at local events, the LEGO Group donates a LEGO set to a child in need, giving children in hospitals, children’s homes, or vulnerable communities globally the chance to play. In 2022, working with our charity partners, we aim to reach 2 million children in 28 countries around the world.
Building a world of play
In February 2022, in celebration of the LEGO Group’s 90th anniversary, the LEGO Foundation announced a USD 143 million (DKK 1 billion) global competition, ‘Build a World of Play Challenge’, to find and fund bold and impactful solutions, focused on early childhood development. Organisations who make a positive impact on the youngest children were welcomed to apply. We received 627 eligible applications across 131 countries, which are under expert review.
Grants will be awarded to those exploring evidence-based solutions to some of the biggest problems of today. This includes access to quality early childhood education and care, adequate nutrition, reduction of violence in homes and communities, protection from pollution, and supporting the social and emotional well-being of the whole family.
Learning about sustainability through play
Build the Change is a playful, hands-on programme designed to inspire children’s creativity and give them a voice on climate challenges and issues that matter to them. Towards the end of 2021, we launched a Biodiversity & Climate Change resource in collaboration with First Book in the U.S. and in 2022 a new course with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, ‘A Future without Waste’. This course is designed for educators and introduces key concepts of the circular economy such as how we can reduce, reuse and repurpose waste.
In the UK, Build the Change also partnered with Red Nose Day — an annual fundraising campaign to ensure a healthy future for all children — using Learning through Play content to inspire 40,000+ children to design habitats for different animals. It also teamed up with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, to launch ‘Wild Challenge’ educational packs for schools and families which encourage children to get exploring and ideating on ways to make a difference.
Our child-facing Build the Change content continues to connect children to sustainability in safe digital settings including our own LEGO® Life platform, where an Earth Month event took the children through a series of challenges that enabled them to express their passion for protecting the planet and earn eco-hero badges.
Our collaboration with PopJam also continued into 2022, with 22,000 children reached with bitesize educational sustainability content and games.
Partnering with Save the Children in China
We made progress bringing Learning through Play to children in Yunnan Province in China as part of a three-year, USD 2.3 million (DKK 17 million) partnership with Save the Children, which launched in 2019.
In the first two years of the partnership, we reached over 30,000 children, 1,200 teachers and more than 34,000 parents. We expect to meet our 50,000 target by the end of the partnership in 2022, and will continue to work with Save the Children in China to bring more Learning through Play to children in need.
Play the video to explore the story of Dayao kindergarten, where inspirational headmaster Li Ming and his staff refurbished the site and brought the fun of Learning through Play to the children.
Partnering for play with UNICEF in China
The LEGO Group, LEGO Foundation and UNICEF launched a partnership in May 2021 which has brought Learning through Play to families in 200 community centres across 10 rural Chinese provinces. This three-year partnership will see USD 2.5 million (DKK 18 million) invested in resources to support early childhood development such as providing access to toys, books, and other play-based learning activities.
In the first year, the project provided early learning services to 46,474 children aged 0-6 and has reached 54,021 caregivers through parenting classes at Community Based Family Services (CBFS) centres. Our aim is to reach 70,000 children through this partnership.
*Image: Volunteer led LEGO® play activity at the CBFS centre in Sankuanyuan Community, Xilin Gol, Inner Mongolia, China; courtesy of China National Children’s Center
PlayBox in China
We continue to bring Learning through Play experiences for children in need through the PlayBox programme in China, which aims to bring quality play experiences for children through the donation of playboxes as well as providing Learning through Play training for rural teachers and social workers.
Since the launch in 2019, this programme has reached an estimated 600,000 children via training for 5,000 teachers, and social workers, with a total of 30,000 boxes donated. It has also established a community for NGOs, teachers and social workers to share best practices and inspire each other.
Another initiative to help children in need of play was through the engagement with Shanghai Children’s Fund and Shanghai Women’s Federation. Between April and June 2022, we donated 3,526 toy sets to children at different medical centres to support them during COVID-19 lockdown.
We’re serious about safe digital play
New Build & Talk adventuresOur Build & Talk educational packs help parents and caregivers talk with their children about digital safety and well-being over some LEGO® building. This year, we’ve expanded our range of Build & Talk activities with three new interactive stories to help parents start a conversation about cyberbullying, cyber security, and digital footprints, reaching over 56 million parents and caregivers so far this year. The stories encourage children to build an imaginary character using LEGO bricks, giving parents and caregivers simple talking points to educate their children on digital safety and empowerment.
Following the success of Doom the Gloom in 2021, we created Gloom Busters to help children learn good digital behaviour in a fun gaming environment. As they playfully explore, children are encouraged to help characters overcome common online challenges, such as cyberbullying and password security, with the aim of gathering up different LEGO® elements to fight back the ‘digital darkness’ known as the gloom.
For Safer Internet Day this year, we developed a campaign on LEGO® Life around ‘critical thinking’ as part of our digital empowerment programme for children.
Observing Shanghai’s ‘Citizen’s Digital Well-being and Skill Improvement Month’In August, we launched an educational pilot project on digital safety for children and families in the Shanghai Xuhui District. In collaboration with the local government, we held an event during Shanghai’s very first ‘Citizen’s Digital Well-being and Skill Improvement Month’, bringing together government representatives from Women’s Federation, Cyberspace Administration and Shanghai AI Research Institute. A ‘Build & Talk’ workshop was also organized in conjunction with the launch, which invited around 15 families to engage in meaningful conversations on children’s digital safety through LEGO® bricks. This was a first step which helps us further scale our initiatives to enhance the understanding of safe digital play in China.
Partnering with UNICEF on forming the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) project
The growing presence of digital technology in children’s lives requires that we think about its impact, which led the LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation to form an international research project with UNICEF and other experts in children’s development. This project will create practical tools for businesses and governments to put the well-being of children at the centre of digital design.
In April 2022, we presented the first output from this project which was a framework consisting of eight well-being outcomes to prioritise and aim for when designing digital experiences for children. The framework will be further developed as the project continues to the end of 2023.
To expand the reach of the framework, we convened key stakeholders from businesses, political institutions, academia, NGOs and IGOs, at a round table event in April. There was an overall agreement that this is important work and a topic that needs the focus of all sectors. As this work progresses, we will continue the dialogue with various stakeholders to ensure the industry considers the wellbeing of children in digital design.
Joining the Council of Europe’s Digital PartnershipIn June 2022, we joined the Council of Europe’s Digital Partnership, an initiative aimed at fostering cooperation between companies, organisations and the 46 member states of the Council of Europe to shape their digital policies, guidelines, conventions, and treaties. The LEGO Group is the first toy company to join and the first partner with an explicit commitment to advance child well-being and child rights across these policies.
Promoting inclusive play
Expanding LEGO® Braille Bricks
In 2019, together with the LEGO Foundation, we announced a pilot project with LEGO® Braille Bricks – a Learning through Play-based concept to teach braille to children with visual impairment in a playful way. The first LEGO Braille Bricks were launched in 2020. We continue to extend the availability of the LEGO Braille Bricks in partnership with local sight loss organisations, and LEGO Braille Bricks can now be found in 11 languages and 20 countries and we’ve reached 27,000 children who are blind or visually impaired. In addition, over 16,000 teachers have been trained to use the LEGO Braille Bricks toolkit.
In China specifically, we have partnered with the China Association of the Blind to provide the Learning through Play experiences and have distributed LEGO Braille Bricks to 160 schools. We also pivoted to providing online training to 195 educators during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Additionally, we continue to expand the LEGO Audio building instructions to more sets.
Supporting neurodiversityIn April 2021, we launched the Brick-by-Brick™ programme which is a partnership between the LEGO Foundation and Play Included™ C.I.C., a UK-based social enterprise using a Learning through Play methodology for therapeutic purposes. This programme is currently available in 40 countries and provides neurodivergent children playful learning opportunities to build social communication skills and develop friendships.
The LEGO Foundation also launched a new accelerator programme in April 2022, ‘Play for All’, which provides equity-free funding and fixed-term mentorship opportunities for social enterprises, ventures and organisations who wish to support autistic children and children with ADHD with play-based learning.
Promoting diversity and inclusivity in products, entertainment, and marketing
As part of our long-standing partnership, UNICEF and the LEGO Group collaborated in 2021 to understand the different types of stereotyping in advertising, products and entertainment that can have a harmful impact on a child’s wellbeing and development. We explored how to avoid these harmful stereotypes across gender, sexuality, ethnicity, culture, disability, and family structures. As a result, we launched an internal LEGO® D&I Playbook (a series of creative instructions) that will inform our communication and product development going forward. After working with the Geena Davis Institute throughout 2021 to understand more about the impact gender stereotypes are having on young children across the globe, we’re now taking this partnership further to ensure D&I standards are consistently represented across our various LEGO branded touchpoints.
We also collaborated with UNICEF to create the “Promoting diversity and inclusion in advertising: a UNICEF playbook,” which serves as a tool for businesses to develop guidelines and strategies to ensure diversity and inclusion in their creative content and products for children.
Respecting and supporting children’s rightsIn 2013, we became the first toy company to sign the 10 Children’s Rights and Business Principles developed by UNICEF, Save the Children and UN Global Compact. With the Principles, we commit to protecting children’s rights and fostering their wellbeing across everything we do in the workplace, marketplace, and our communities. Through our partnership with UNICEF, we work to implement and advocate for the Principles, which continue to inform our work on areas such as digital and physical child safeguarding, responsible marketing and advertisement practices.
Connecting the DOTS between prosthetics and play
In May 2022, we teamed up with Koalaa – a UK-based company that provides affordable and accessible soft prosthetics – to organise a one-of-a-kind event for children with limb differences.
To celebrate uniqueness and empower users to personalise their prosthetics, we welcomed members of the Koalaa Community to exclusively try out a new product: LEGO® DOTS Stitch-on Patch.
By providing a new way to decorate and celebrate their prosthetics through creative play, the LEGO Group is one step closer towards its ambition of increasing inclusivity, empathy and representation across play experiences and programmes.
Making MRIs less intimidating for children
Earlier this year, the LEGO Foundation announced a donation of 600 LEGO® MRI Scanners to hospitals worldwide to help children cope with the uncertainty of having a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan.
What started in 2015 as a passion project for LEGO employee Erik Ullerlund Staehr and Odense University Hospital, Denmark, is now being scaled and piloted with new training material for hospital staff worldwide. The team developed the sets to help children navigate the often daunting and intimidating process of having an MRI scan. The LEGO MRI Scanner is developed with a child-centred focus and Learning through Play approach, allowing clinicians to facilitate both role play and dialogue so that the child feels safe, ahead of treatment.