Build a World of Play Challenge

For the LEGO ® brand’s 90th anniversary we’re making a commitment to the world’s youngest children, giving out grants worth 900 million Danish Kroner to organisations that can help us give children the best start in life

We need to invest in children from day one

A child’s experiences in their first six years shape the life they’ll grow up to live. And, in turn, how healthy and wealthy their communities will be. Yet around the world, governments barely invest in little ones’ learning and development. They’re not properly funding or prioritising early childhood policies. It’s a crisis - especially for children coping with pressures from conflict to climate change. And it’s time we changed that.

Learn how children develop

Our challenge: build a world where children thrive

Baby steps won’t do. For children to get the care, fresh air, safe homes, clean water, good education, opportunities to play, and nutritious food they deserve, we need bold, bright, big ideas. With Lever for Change, we launched a 900 million DKK challenge (approx. 143 USD) to find and fund the innovative projects. And build a world where every child has the chance to learn and play.

Dive into our challenge

The 10 Finalists

Play centres. Holistic family support services. Positive parenting mentors. Disability screening. Our top ten challenge finalists unlock opportunities for early learning for little ones and their families. Including in some of the world’s most marginalised communities. Learn more about them at our partner Lever for Change's website.

Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health

Project name: 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.

Find out more here.

Impact and Innovation Development Centre

Project name: REAL Fathers

Location: Uganda

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.

Find out more here.

Clinton Health Access Initiative

Project name: 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.

Find out more here.

IRD Global

Project name: GogoPlay

Location: South Africa

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.

Find out more here.

Lively Minds

Project name: Empowering Rural Communities

Location: Ghana and Uganda

Lively Minds aims to 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 to run Play Schemes for pre-schoolers, using low-cost games and a structured curriculum to help little ones get a positive start in life - improving learning, well-being 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.

Find out more here.

Motion Light Lab

Project Name: Play and Language Through Visual Learning

Location: United States and Thailand

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.

Find out more here.

Cohere Charity

Project name: 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.

Find out more here.

Ubongo International

Project name: Akili Family

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.

Find out more here.

SGDD

Project name: Leverage Box: Game 4 All

Location: Turkey

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 Box: 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.

Find out more here.

Indus Action Initiatives

Project name: Care to Play

Location: India

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.

Find out more here.

More donors are always welcome

You can help us make a greater impact, raise awareness and support bold ideas that can transform futures for the world’s youngest children. If you’re interested in giving extra funding for the Build World of Play Challenge, contact Dana Rice, Vice President of Philanthropy at Lever for Change.

Media Inquiries

Media inquiries should be directed to the LEGO Foundation's PR agency Ketchum, lon-legofoundation@ketchum.com

Press release and toolkit