IKEA Canada Announces Let's Play for Change Campaign to Support Children's Rights

As part of a global initiative, IKEA and IKEA Foundation are teaming up with six leading children's rights organizations and putting play at the heart of a new good cause campaign

BURLINGTON, ON, Nov. 17, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, IKEA Canada announced a new campaign, Let's Play for Change which supports children's development and learning, equal participation, sports, and of course, play. For every children's book and toy sold at IKEA stores between November 20th and December 24th, the IKEA Foundation will make a donation of $1 to support children's right to play and develop in some of the world's most vulnerable communities. The IKEA Foundation's partners in this campaign are Handicap International Federation, Room to Read, Save the Children, Special Olympics, UNICEF and War Child. The programs supported by the campaign focus on children affected by disabilities, the Syrian conflict, unsafe migration, and poverty.

"The Let's Play for Change campaign exemplifies our commitment to children's rights around the world," Brendan Seale, Sustainability Manager, IKEA Canada. "We know that  children suffer the most in crisis situations and we are committed to upholding and raising awareness of their rights. By partnering with more organizations, this campaign has the potential to improve the lives of thousands more around the world."

Let's Play for Change builds on the success of previous IKEA good cause campaigns, which have raised €118.8 million in total for IKEA Foundation partners since 2003. This is the biggest IKEA good cause campaign yet – with more products and more partners than ever before.

To further support of this initiative, for the third consecutive year, IKEA invites children from around the world to enter into a drawing competition at IKEA stores. Ten winners will have their drawings turned into real soft toys, as part of a limited collection SAGOSKATT– designed by kids, for kids.  Among last year's finalists, Léonard from Canada was selected as one of ten winners and saw his warm and happy sun design come to life as an IKEA soft toy. Cusomters will also have the chance to play to the virtual world by playing the new IKEA mobile game HOPP, which allows the game to create spaces in the virtual world. HOPP is free to download at ikea.com/HOPP.

IKEA's commitment to enhancing the lives of children and families globally is born in part out of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Children, which states that every child should have the right to play. Sadly not every child enjoys this right. Millions of migrant families and children are on the move today, making them vulnerable to discrimination, violence, abuse and exploitation, according to a play insights document released by IKEA Foundation today. The report also revealed that children with disabilities are often the most likely to be excluded from play and learning activities.

Words from the IKEA Foundation's partners
First hand testimonials from the IKEA Foundation's partners that speak to the impact that this partnership will have in support of each partners causes.  

Handicap International Federation—in Pakistan, Thailand and Bangladesh
Provides Early Childhood Development opportunities to children with disabilities and other vulnerable children in displacement settings.

Cheryl Shin-Hua Yeam, Handicap International regional technical coordinator said:
"Children in refugee camps come from difficult backgrounds, having fled war and violence, facing poverty and poor health conditions. Play is an important tool for them to work through these issues and to be a child. Therefore we want to create inclusive communal spaces where vulnerable children feel safe and can develop through play."

Room to Read—in Bangladesh and Indonesia
Transforms the lives of children through a high quality of education that includes teacher training, provision of learning materials and developing children in both literacy and reading.

"Room to Read will bring the joy of reading and a love of learning to tens of thousands of children in government schools in Bangladesh and Indonesia", said Erin Ganju, CEO and co-founder of Room to Read. "Our innovative, data-driven, and cost-effective Literacy Program will effect systemic change in hundreds of communities through the establishment of libraries, training of teachers, and the capacity development of local authors and illustrators to publish locally-relevant and engaging children's books."

Save the Children—in Bangladesh and Ethiopia
Prevents unsafe migration of children by promoting protection, education and play for children on the move.

"Save the Children is giving children on the move a chance of a better future. The IKEA Foundation, with support from IKEA employees and customers worldwide, helps us fulfill children's right to protection, education and play. Children on the move are highly vulnerable and our program intends to deliver lasting improvements to their lives." Patricia Erb, President and CEO Save the Children Canada

Special Olympics—in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Thailand
Promotes, through sports and play, inclusion and development of children with intellectual disabilities.

Mary Davis, Chief Executive Officer, Special Olympics said.  "It is shocking and disheartening to note that the majority of children with intellectual disabilities have little to no access to valuable services and educational opportunities, which often entrenches them and their families in a cycle of poverty and social isolation, which ultimately, hinders their human development.  The Special Olympics Young Athletes program, a sports-play program designed to promote motor, social and cognitive development and inclusion for children with intellectual disabilities, offers children the opportunity to learn inclusive play in a safe environment.  Thanks to our partners at the IKEA Foundation, we are able to grow our Young Athletes program and reach more children, impact more families and further break down the perceptions that exist for children with intellectual disabilities."

UNICEF—in China, India, Indonesia and Kenya
Provides safe spaces, education and health support for children aged 0-8 to ensure early childhood development in some of the poorest communities.

"Play is absolutely fundamental to healthy child development. It enables children to do well in school. It develops their creativity and imagination and it teaches them critical problem-solving skills. Play also helps children build and nurture positive relationships," says David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "The sad reality, however, is that millions of children around the world are deprived of play whether it's because of war, natural disaster or poverty. At UNICEF, we're thrilled to have the support of partners like IKEA Canada, who recognize the importance of play and step up to help us ensure children around the world are not deprived of this basic right."

War Child—in Jordan and Lebanon
Provides a safe environment to play, learn and develop for children in Jordan and Lebanon who have been affected by the Syrian conflict.

Dr. Samantha Nutt, Founder, War Child Canada added: "Play is important to children everywhere but for children overcoming the brutality of war it is vital. Creating a safe space to play is the first step in allowing them to reclaim their childhood and begin to rebuild their future after years of violence and trauma. It is wonderful that the IKEA Foundation has chosen to support these children."

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ABOUT IKEA CANADA
IKEA is a leading home furnishing retailer with 375 stores in more than 50 countries worldwide, which are visited by 884 million people every year. IKEA Canada has 12 stores, an eCommerce virtual store, 6 Pick-up and order points in Quebec City and southern Ontario and two Collection Points in Halifax and Saskatoon. The company also recently announced plans to open stores in Halifax and Quebec City. Last year, IKEA Canada welcomed 25 million visitors to its stores and 75 million visitors to the IKEA.ca website. 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 IKEA Foundation
The IKEA Foundation (Stichting IKEA Foundation) is the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies. We aim to improve opportunities for children and youth in some of the world's poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programs that can create substantial, lasting change. The IKEA 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 a sustainable family income, while helping these communities fight and cope with climate change.

Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org and www.facebook.com/IKEAfoundation

SOURCE IKEA Canada

For further information: IKEA CANADA: Stephanie Harnett, Corporate Press Officer, 905-637-9440 ext. 6378, stephanie.harnett@IKEA.com

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