IKEA's Soft Toys for Education campaign raises over $15 million to help improve children's education across Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia

TORONTO, Jan. 30, 2014 /CNW/ - The annual IKEA Soft Toys for Education campaign ran from November through January 2014 in all 12 IKEA stores in Canada. For each soft toy or children's book purchased, €1(approximately $1.50 CAD) was donated to UNICEF and Save the Children by the IKEA Foundation.

Since the start of this annual campaign in 2003, the IKEA Foundation has donated over $90 million CAD, which has helped improve the educational opportunities of more than 11 million children in 46 countries. The donations help UNICEF and Save the Children train teachers in child-friendly teaching approaches, improve child protection systems, supply educational materials, and increase school attendance rates.

Thanks to this year's donation, the IKEA Foundation will support 19 UNICEF and Save the Children projects in 18 countries. UNICEF's portion will fund the Schools for Africa initiative in eight countries and the Schools for Asia initiative in China. Save the Children's share will support education for children of the most marginalised groups in Asia and Eastern Europe.

By purchasing any soft toy in store, IKEA Canada customers contributed over $500,000 CDN to the global campaign this year. At all 12 Canadian stores, customers also had the opportunity to be involved in a 'Give Twice' incentive, donating IKEA soft toys to local children's charities.

"UNICEF would like to thank every individual who had purchased an IKEA soft toy and/or book and to the co-workers who made the campaign such a tremendous success." said David Morley, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada. "The remarkable support and generosity from the IKEA Foundation, IKEA customers, and IKEA co-workers will ensure we continue to make strides in ensuring children will have better access to quality education and an opportunity for a better future."

"This year marks the 20th anniversary of Save the Children's long term strategic collaboration with the IKEA Foundation. It's also the 8th consecutive year that we have participated in the IKEA Soft Toys for Education campaign. Through the IKEA Foundation's commitment to helping vulnerable children gain access to a quality education, Save the Children aims to ensure children around the world can recognize their right to education, helping children fulfills his and/or her potential, globally," said Patricia Erb, President and CEO, Save the Children Canada.

More information:

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 and www.Facebook.com/IKEAfoundation

About IKEA
IKEA is a leading home furnishings retailer with 342 stores in 42 countries worldwide, which are visited by 776 million people every year. IKEA Canada has 12 stores which are visited by over 25 million people every year. Last year the IKEA.com websites attracted 1.1 billion visitors. Founded in 1943, IKEA's business philosophy is to offer a wide range of products of good design and function at prices so low, the majority of people can afford them. For more information on IKEA, please visit: www.IKEA.ca.

About Save the Children
Save the Children is the world's leading independent organisation for children. 30 national organisations are working together to deliver programmes in more than 120 countries around the world Save the Children's vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Save the Children's mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives. For more information, please visit www.savethechildren.ca or follow us on Facebook.

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 more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca and follow us on Facebook

Notes to editors
Thanks to this year's donation, the IKEA Foundation will support 19 UNICEF and Save the Children projects in 18 countries. UNICEF's share will help fund the Schools for Africa initiative projects in eight countries (Angola, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and South Africa) and one project as part of the Schools for Asia initiative in China. Save the Children's share will support education for children of the most marginalised groups (minorities and children with disabilities) in Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam) and Europe (Lithuania, Romania and Kosovo).

The donations will help UNICEF and Save the Children train teachers in child-friendly teaching methods, improve child protection systems, supply educational materials in the schools, help rebuild schools, provide better water and toilet facilities, and increase school attendance rates.

Mozambique:
In Mozambique, thanks to the IKEA Foundation's contribution of Soft Toys for Education campaign funds, 55,000 children in 88 schools were reached with the five components of the Child-Friendly Schools approach: education; protection; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), health and social mobilization. Children in these schools also received physical education and were trained in important life skills (HIV awareness, awareness on gender issues, and preventing violence and sexual abuse).

South Africa:
In South Africa, with the support from the IKEA Foundation, UNICEF supported the implementation of the Safe and Caring Child-Friendly Schools (SCCFS) programme for 198 schools not reached by development programmes outside government. This benefitted 151,000 girls and boys and 3,400 educators. Furthermore, IKEA Foundation's support has helped over 2,500 schools register a school sports league to facilitate a participatory programme for all girls and boys, including children with disabilities.

Ethiopia:
In Ethiopia, the funding from the Soft Toys for Education campaign has helped increase the enrolment rate of children into grade 1 of primary education, which has now reached 92%. The gross enrolment rate for pre-primary schools achieved a significant increase of 15.9 percentage points. Over one year, it went from one in 20 children to one in 5 children getting enrolled in pre-primary school. A very encouraging trend!

Romania:
With the IKEA Foundation's support, Save the Children runs a project in Romania which aims to reduce discrimination against the two of the most vulnerable groups of children: Roma children and children with mental health problems. Multiple stakeholders are targeted, and educational and health services will be developed for the benefit of vulnerable children and their families. Some 18,000 school children will be educated in eliminating discrimination and stigma.

Indonesia:
In Indonesia, many children with disabilities find that their basic rights are disregarded. Thanks to support from the IKEA Foundation, Save the Children will mobilize communities, government stakeholders, and others to assist these children in attaining their right to enjoy a full and decent life. Save the Children will accomplish this by increasing the capacity of families to care for their children with disabilities and improving their access to high-quality education.

Bangladesh:
In Bangladesh there are approximately 7 million children with disabilities who are extremely vulnerable to violence and exploitation. Thanks to support from the IKEA Foundation, Save the Children is able to give 4,400 boys and girls with disabilities in three districts of Bangladesh improved mental and physical wellbeing through better protection. The project works with their caregivers, communities, school authorities, and children with disabilities themselves.

SOURCE IKEA Canada

For further information:

IKEA Canada
Madeleine Löwenborg-Frick, Corporate Communications Manager
Madeleine.lowenborg-frick@ikea.com
905-637-9440 x6378

Save the Children Canada
Kirsten Walkom, National Senior Manager, Public Relations
kwalkom@savethechildren.ca
416- 221-5501 x233

UNICEF Canada
Layal Horanieh, Communications Specialist,
lhoranieh@unicef.ca
514 288-5134 x 8425