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

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, such as camps for refugees and other displaced people.

NEW YORK (July 25, 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, such as camps for refugees and other displaced people.

ecd kit

© 2013 IKEA-UNICEF

The Early CHildhood Development kits, co-developed by IKEA and UNICEF

UNICEF’s ECD kit was designed for children under the age of six living in 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 $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 approximately 1.2 million children will have more opportunities for a better start in life.

When young children are caught in conflicts or emergencies, the opportunity to experience childhood is lost. A staggering two thirds of the world’s child population, 1.5 billion children, live in countries affected by humanitarian 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, colored 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 programs 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 catalog.

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 $200 million to UNICEF in cash and in kind, and today the IKEA Foundation is UNICEF’s largest corporate donor.

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

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:

Andrea Sioris, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9136, asioris@unicefusa.org