LEGO and 'Sesame Street' team up on a $100 million program to teach refugee kids

It's no secret that creativity plays an essential role in a child's education. And what better way to teach ...

Posted: Dec 6, 2018 11:32 AM
Updated: Dec 6, 2018 11:32 AM

It's no secret that creativity plays an essential role in a child's education. And what better way to teach Rohingya and Syrian refugee children than to bring them Muppets?

The LEGO Foundation announced Wednesday it is awarding a $100 million grant to Sesame Workshop for a mass-media program to help educate millions of refugee children.

Arts and entertainment

Children's programming

Companies

Education

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

Lego Group

Refugees

Sesame Workshop

Television programming

Children

Demographic groups

Families and children

Family members and relatives

Population and demographics

Society

Charities and charitable giving

The number of displaced people last year hit a global high, according to the UN Refugee Agency, which said that more than 68 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2017 as a result of war, violence and other forms of persecution. Among them are 25.4 million refugees -- about half of whom are under the age of 18.

"Learning through play can change a child's life," say the LEGO Foundation and Sesame Workshop, who believe their program will give these vulnerable kids a leg up during what is an unsettling time for them. Sesame Workshop is the educational organization behind the PBS kids' show "Sesame Street," which features Muppets characters.

"Early adverse experiences negatively affect the development of brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health," said John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation, in a statement.

The program will include a play-based curriculum that will bring critical early education -- like reading and counting -- via Sesame Street videos, storybooks, games, puzzles and safe spaces to play. Organizers hope it will help mitigate some of the long-term effects of displacement and trauma.

"Play is essential for a child's healthy development and fosters the natural curiosity to learn through engaging interactions with caring adults," Sherrie Westin, President of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, told CNN.

Westin said that interaction between adults and children is all the more important for kids who have experienced the trauma of displacement. Sesame Workshop content is designed to appeal to both children and their caregivers, which enables that playful engagement the children need, she said.

This is LEGO Foundation's first humanitarian project. The funds will strengthen Sesame Workshop partnerships with Bangladeshi relief organization BRAC, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and New York University's Global TIES for Children -- allowing them to reach some of the world's most vulnerable children.

"This extraordinary grant is so meaningful both because of the children we will reach and because it's the kind of bold philanthropy needed to transform the way the humanitarian system serves the youngest refugees," Westin said. "Less than 3% of global humanitarian funding goes to education, and only a sliver to early childhood, despite all we know about the value in investing in a child's early years."

According to Sesame Workshop, "Sesame Street" reaches children in 150 countries while the IRC provides services to over 26 million people in 40 countries. The two have been working together since 2017 after receiving a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, and with the LEGO funding they will be able to expand their efforts.

The new program will use animated and nonverbal formats to address the needs of displaced children no matter where they live or what language they speak.

"We believe that this work is vital in assisting children to develop the resilience they need to thrive, and we sincerely hope that other actors in the global community will join us in changing how humanitarian response works so that the youngest victims of crises have a brighter future," said Sarah Bouchie, Head of Learning through Play in Early Childhood at the LEGO Foundation.

West Lafayette
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 74°
Kokomo
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 69°
Rensselaer
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 66°
Fowler
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 66°
Williamsport
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 67°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 69°
Frankfort
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 68°
Delphi
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
Monticello
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
Logansport
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 72°
Warm-up again with increasing humidity & risk of storms.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 75862

Reported Deaths: 3069
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16088730
Lake7688278
Elkhart492685
Allen4002163
St. Joseph357883
Hamilton2829104
Vanderburgh202213
Hendricks1927108
Cass18029
Johnson1789119
Porter135539
Clark128749
Tippecanoe123811
Madison100665
LaPorte93130
Howard91365
Kosciusko86812
Bartholomew81747
Floyd80948
Marshall79323
Monroe76631
Delaware74552
Dubois70812
Vigo69911
Noble68829
Boone68746
Hancock68339
Jackson5965
Warrick58830
Shelby56527
LaGrange56310
Grant52930
Dearborn51228
Morgan49334
Clinton4444
Henry40620
Wayne38510
White37611
Montgomery35921
Lawrence35227
Harrison34823
Decatur34132
Putnam3128
Daviess27720
Miami2772
Scott27210
Jasper2552
Greene25434
Franklin24615
DeKalb2384
Gibson2314
Jennings22712
Steuben2133
Ripley2138
Carroll1962
Fayette1947
Perry18713
Posey1790
Starke1787
Wells1742
Orange17424
Fulton1722
Wabash1703
Jefferson1672
Knox1610
Whitley1556
Tipton14312
Washington1421
Sullivan1381
Spencer1373
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1244
Newton12010
Adams1092
Owen991
Jay920
Rush854
Pulaski811
Fountain742
Brown741
Blackford652
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike590
Vermillion580
Switzerland530
Parke511
Martin480
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0206

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events