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The IKEA Foundation helps UNICEF bring the gift of play to children affected by emergencies around the world

2013-07-25

TORONTO, 25 July 2013 - In an innovative collaboration, the IKEA Foundation is donating a range of IKEA toys to UNICEF’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) kits to help meet the needs of some the most vulnerable young children in the world. 

Over the next two years, the kits will be distributed to an estimated 1.2 million children living in emergency or post-conflict settings.

UNICEF’s ECD kit was designed for children under the age of six living in these difficult circumstances. It aims to focus attention on the needs of young children and to support the development of play and learning under extreme conditions.

The IKEA Foundation has committed to provide eight toys from the current children’s range sold in IKEA stores worldwide for each kit. The toys, with an estimated value of US$2 million, are a donation to UNICEF and will be used in 24,000 ECD kits that will be distributed around the world over the next two years. The kits will help to ensure that some 1.2 million children will have more opportunities for a better start in life.

When young children are caught up in conflicts or emergencies, the opportunity to experience childhood can be lost. A staggering two thirds of the world’s child population, 1.5 billion children, live in countries affected by crises. With the ECD kits, caregivers can use materials that help to create a reassuring and safe learning environment for children living in such situations.

Each of the IKEA products was chosen by UNICEF’s educational specialists. The items include a shape sorter, a sort and stack set, finger puppets, hand puppets, school scissors, coloured building blocks, a paper pad and paper roll. It is estimated that 12,000 kits will be required annually by the UNICEF offices that implement programmes for children in conflict situations and emergencies.

"Research shows that early childhood is the most critical time for brain development. With the additional help of toys such as those donated by the IKEA Foundation, children can develop their cognitive, verbal, visual, auditory and social skills”, said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF Director of Private Fundraising and Partnerships. “Each of the IKEA toys was chosen to stimulate and engage the minds of young children. The toys are part of a treasure box that makes up the ECD kits, and help restore a sense of hope and normalcy to children living in extremely difficult environments."

“Providing these IKEA children’s products is another way for the IKEA Foundation to support UNICEF in their special efforts to reach out to vulnerable children who have been caught up in disasters or emergencies”, said Per Heggenes, IKEA Foundation CEO. “We believe that the selected IKEA products can help where the need is the greatest and hopefully bring some smiles back to these children’s faces.”

The innovative kit packed with the IKEA products is showcased in the 2014 IKEA catalogue.

For more than 10 years, the IKEA Foundation has been a key partner and supporter of UNICEF’s work, based on a shared commitment to realizing the rights of all children. Since 2001, the IKEA Foundation has donated and pledged more than US$200 million to UNICEF in cash and in kind, and today the IKEA Foundation is UNICEF’s largest corporate donor.

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About the IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in the world’s poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and sustainable family income. Currently-funded programmes benefit an estimated 100 million children by 2015. Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org.

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.