UN signals importance of play by adopting official International Day of Play

  • Global partners have successfully called on the United Nations to adopt an International Day of Play to champion and protect children’s right to play.
  • The International Day of Play will be June 11th, with the inaugural celebration to take place in 2024.
  • Global research surveying more than 25,000 children across 36 countries reveals that as many as 73% of children don’t believe adults take play – and how it can help them learn – seriously*.
Children playing

BILLUND, DENMARK, March 26th 2024: Play is a fundamental right for every child. Yet, the importance of play in helping children develop life-long skills is often forgotten. With only 30% of adults aware that play is a fundamental birth right adopted by the United Nations (UN) in 1989** there is an urgent need to put play back on the agenda.

To drive this ambition forward, a dedicated network of global organisations, play experts and, most importantly, children and youth themselves, have called on UN member states to support the resolution for an International Day of Play. The LEGO Group, the LEGO Foundation and other founding members of the movement are proud to announce that the UN General Assembly has adopted this international awareness day.

Niels B. Christiansen, CEO of the LEGO Group said about the adoption: “We believe that all children should benefit from the power of play. For more than 90 years we have championed children's right to play, as we know that it can change lives. It strengthens family bonds and helps children develop essential skills and reach their full potential. We have hosted our own World Play Day the past two years to celebrate the importance of play. Now, we are excited to turn it into a global movement to engage and impact even more children together with our partners. The adoption of an International Day of Play by the UN is a true testament to the power of play and the need to collectively champion and protect all children's right to play.”

Sidsel Marie Kristensen, CEO of the LEGO Foundation added: “At the LEGO Foundation, our aspiration is for children to become creative, lifelong learners who thrive in a constantly changing world. We know that play fuels curiosity, sparks creativity, unlocks essential skills, boosts wellbeing and inspires a lifelong journey of learning. Play is the superpower of children, but not all children experience the benefits of learning through play. The challenge for all of us is to make play a part of every child's reality. An International Day of Play is an important recognition of a child’s right to play. Let's work together to ensure every child has the space and time to play and be the superheroes they are.”

Play is never just play
Play is universal and taps into children’s natural enthusiasm and curiosity to learn. It teaches them to explore and wonder, connect ideas and experiences and gain a deeper understanding of the world. When children play, they develop essential life skills, which are fundamental to their own and society’s progress.

Amine, Child and Youth Advisory Group member France, said: “Play is not just for fun. It’s an essential part of our human nature. It’s through play that we learn, grow, and develop skills that will shape our future.”

This is why the International Day of Play network of organisations are committed to driving a global play movement for children everywhere for generations to come. The work was initiated by the LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation in partnership with ADEA, ARUP, BRAC, Change X, Concerned for Working Children, Eurochild, Hasbro, INGKA, International Play Association, IRC, KidZania, NIKE inc., PEDAL, Plan International, Right To Play International, Save the Children, Sesame Workshop and The Mattel Children’s Foundation.

The movement draws on further global insights*** revealing that, on average, three in five (59%) children would like to play more than they do now, whilst four in five (79%) of children would like to play more with their parents or carer. Research also shows that eight in ten (78%) of children say grown-ups don't always think playing is important and seven in ten (73%) don’t believe grown-ups take play – and how it can help them learn – seriously****.

Children and Parents playing

The world needs more play
UNICEF estimates that 160 million children around the world are working instead of playing or learning*****. Yet, even in their darkest moments, children can find their way back to hope, health and happiness through play.

The adoption of a UN resolution for a day centered around play, takes children’s right one step further. It creates a unifying moment at global, national, and local levels to elevate the importance of play as central to children’s learning and wellbeing – ensuring time to play, space to play and support for quality play is prioritised.

The coalition of partners of International Day of Play is celebrating that this important movement has now been ratified, recognising the true power of play at the highest political level. We invite everyone to join us in celebrating the power of play on June 11th this year, and every year thereafter.

Notes to Editors

Media assets available for download. B-roll available upon request.

Assets caption: ©2024 The LEGO Group

For more information, please contact media@LEGO.com

About the International Day of Play Survey

  • Child and Youth Survey data collection conducted by the Child Friendly Governance Project and YouGov.
  • Online fieldwork from 01.06.2023 - 13.12.2023.
  • The survey was conducted among children aged 10-15 years old drawn from the YouGov panel via their parents. Responses in Mexico and Rwanda were collected by the Child Friendly Governance Project separately.
  • Total sample of children and youth surveyed by YouGov and Child Friendly Governance Project: 10,148 children surveyed in 21 countries. Results were weighted by age crossed with gender.
  • These survey findings were also complimented with play-based workshops with over 600 children, conducted by the LEGO Group and partners, to understand children's views about play.

About the LEGO® Play Well Study 2024

  • Commissioned by the LEGO Group, carried out by Edelman DXI
  • 36 countries including Australia + New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Turkey, UAE, UK, and the USA.
  • Total sample: 61,532, including 36,000 Parents (appr. 1000 per market) and 25,532 Children aged 5-12 years old (appr. 700 per market).
  • Fieldwork: 13.12.23 – 24.01.2024

About International Day of Play
A unifying moment each year to galvanise global, national & local action towards giving play the time, space & support it deserves, mark progress towards achieving more & better play for every child, and allow children & their communities to celebrate play. The International Day of Play was led by a Core Group of UN Member States from all five UN member states: Vietnam, El Salvador, Bulgaria, Jamaica, Kenya and Luxembourg. This core group worked to mobilise support for the resolution with other UN member states within their region. Find out more at www.internationaldayofplay.org

Children & Youth Involvement:
A Child & Youth Advisory Group, which includes members from Colombia, France, Germany, India, Sierre Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Spain, has been formed as key consultants for this initiative. As part of their role they will develop a Child & Youth Call to Action to be shared with world leaders, inviting them to strengthen their commitment to put play on the agenda.

Quotes from Child and Youth Advisory Group members on why play matters to them:
“Play is not just for fun. It’s an essential part of our human nature. It’s through play that we learn, grow, and develop skills that will shape our future.” (Amine, France)

“Play increases our intelligence, saves our lives, and builds friendships.’’ (Maheshwari, India)

“Play shaped me into who I am today. Thanks to the challenges, successes and failures, I have been able to explore and address my feelings. But play is not only about understanding yourself, it’s also about discovering the world around you.” (Lilou, France)

“Play is an adventure where you can create your own world.” (Astrid, Denmark)

“Play create bridges to connect with other children.” (Mikkel, Denmark)

“Play is a tool to create memories and experiences with others.” (Ida, Denmark)