Makers of one of the most universally beloved toys, LEGO Group, is expanding its influence through the Lego Foundation to promote the transformative power of play. At the 2014 Lego Ideas Conference, which was held on April 9-10, the Lego Foundation “assembled some of the world’s most important voices on play and learning to define a shared mission to re-define play and re-imagine learning.”
While the conference itself was created to provide a platform for discussion of play and gather a network of leading social entrepreneurs, the biggest takeaway from the event may have been the discovery of a play advocacy movement eager for action. In addressing the agenda of learning through play, Dr. Randa Grob-Zachary, CEO of the Lego Foundation, stated, “We are facing a complex, global, systemic challenge and that we will have the greatest impact if we build on existing efforts and catalyze change through coalitions that can advance this agenda together.”
Many of the leading play advocates participated in the conference as speakers. Some of these names include Jonathan Koss, President and CEO of Right to Play , Founder of KaBOOM! Darrell Hammond, and Mitch Resnick, the Director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. Our own founder, Dina Buchbinder Auron was a participant in the Idea Lab and Strategy Lab Speakers portion of the conference. These speakers were given the opportunity to discuss their perspective on the power of play on the world’s youth, and how their organization is making an impact.
There were admitted differences in opinion on how to best advance learning through play, but lack of consensus only served to spur on greater ideas and discussion. The Re-imagine Learning Challenge was launched at the conclusion of the 2014 Lego Ideas Conference, in part to help identify, collaborate and and fuel these separate organizations and leading social enterprises to attain their goals. Additionally, the Lego Foundation spurred support to sign a petition to have UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and UN Member states place early childhood development at the the core of the post-2015 development agenda, which you can sign here.
The conference may be over, movement for play advocacy is just getting started. As said by the Lego Foundation’s critical message, “Play unlocks learning and development benefits that last a lifetime, and childhood presents a critical window of opportunity.” We agree, and will continue to form better citizens from childhood through the universal language of play.