Sesame Street and LEGO to help young refugee children learn through play

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LEGO has awarded Sesame Workshop $100m to help young Syrian and Rohingya refugee children affected by conflict (Sesame Workshop)

Children in conflicts, Early childhood development, ​Learning through play (Early years), Refugees and internally displaced people

The Sesame Street Muppets are to help young children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises learn through play.

New toys, storybooks, games, videos and puzzles featuring the characters will aid preschool children who have been traumatised and displaced from their homes.

They will benefit from a $100 million grant given by the LEGO Foundation to Sesame Workshop.

“By providing play-based learning to children in crisis, we can help mitigate the detrimental, long-term effects of displacement and trauma,” said John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation.

90% of a child’s brain development happens before the age of five. Being displaced due to conflict or natural disaster can have a devastating effect on a young child’s brain and cause long-lasting effects on their health and future potential.

Lego And Sesame Street For Refugees 3

The project will support children suffering the trauma of violence and displacement (Sesame Workshop)

It is crucial that these children have access to quality care including nutrition, health, learning, play and protection

Sesame Workshop will use the $100 million grant to implement quality, play-based early childhood interventions. It will work with Bangladesh-based BRAC, the world’s largest non-governmental development organisation, the International Rescue Committee and New York University’s Global TIES for Children.

“Research shows that not only is play vital for children’s psychological, emotional and cognitive health and development – but it also hones the resilience they need to overcome adversity and build their futures,” said Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation Board.

“We hope to inspire other funders, humanitarian actors, world leaders and governments to act and urgently prioritise support for play-based early childhood development for children in humanitarian crises.”

Lego And Sesame Street For Refugees 2

Children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises will receive storybooks, games videos and puzzle featuring characters from the TV show (Sesame Workshop)

Sesame Workshop will receive the $100 million over five years. Among the projects will be:

  • Scaling up BRAC’s network of Play Labs to address the developmental needs of children ages birth to six from Rohingya refugee and Bangladeshi host populations.
  • New Sesame Street videos, storybooks, games, puzzles and more featuring the Muppets to foster engagement between children and their caregivers, nurture developmental needs and build resilience for young children.
  • Sesame Workshop will create videos starring the Muppets – focused on play – to be shared through family-friendly mobile and pop-up viewings in refugee and host communities.

More than half of the world’s nearly 20 million refugees are children.

Over 600,000 ethnic Rohingya people from Rakhine state, Myanmar, fled to neighbouring Bangladesh last year after violence broke out. About 60% of those who ended up in refugee camps in and around the city of Cox’s Bazaar are children. 

About 2.6 million Syrians live in neighbouring countries after fleeing from the seven-year conflict. Most of them are in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

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