(Conshohocken, PA – November 6, 2013) IKEA announced today the return of its annual ‘Soft Toys for Education’ campaign, which will run from November 10, 2013 to January 4, 2014. During this period, the IKEA Foundation will donate one euro (approximately $1.34)* to UNICEF and Save the Children to give children in developing countries access to a quality education. Launched in 2003, the campaign has impacted 10 million children in 46 countries and donations have totalled $74 million for 90 projects.
Education is the most powerful and effective way to help children escape poverty. The change it can bring to a young life is immense. Education has a direct impact on well-being, from better health to increased opportunities. It gives children knowledge, skills and confidence they need to shape a better future for themselves. When a child begins and stays in school, he or she not only changes the course of their own life, but that of future generations. And that’s when small changes pave the way for bigger ones.
The donations from the IKEA Soft Toys for Education Campaign will help train teachers in child-friendly teaching methods, improve child protection systems, supply educational materials like pencils, books, bags, rebuild schools and provide better water and toilet facilities; and increase school attendance rates. More than 10 million children will be educated in eliminating discrimination and stigma.
This year’s newcomers to the soft toys family are fairy tale heroes:
- LUFSIG, the soft toy wolf
- NOJSIG and GULLGOSSE, a princess and a king
- KRULLIG, an elf
- SÅNGTRAST, a fairy with a magic spell
Inspiration to read opens the door to education, which is why, every year, IKEA creates a children’s book based on IKEA soft toy characters as part of the annual Soft Toys for Education Campaign. In this year’s book, “The Princess and the Happiness,” young readers visit the fairy-tale forest and learn that happiness can be just around the corner.
“Thanks to the unwavering commitment shown by IKEA co-workers and customers, the IKEA Foundation has donated more than $51 million to UNICEF’s education programs for children in Africa and Asia,” said Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “IKEA’s support has enabled UNICEF to get millions of children into the classroom, provide teacher training to improve the quality of education, and help ensure children complete school.”
“We are looking forward to our continued holiday tradition of teaming with IKEA Soft Toys for Education. The enthusiasm of IKEA staff and customers brings desperately needed education and teacher training to children in underserved parts of the world and will impact future generations,” said Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children. “We are honored to be part of this partnership along with UNICEF, and look forward to creating lasting change for children.”
“We are incredibly proud to be part of the IKEA Soft Toy for Education campaign. The funding means we can continue our work on changing the lives of children with disabilities and children of minority groups, the most marginalized children, in Eastern Europe and South East Asia. We’re providing access to quality education for millions of children, impacting on generations to come.” Elisabeth Dahlin, Secretary General Save the Children Sweden and Chairperson Global Lead Agency for the IKEA Foundation Collaboration
“IKEA’s soft toys bring smiles to the faces of thousands of children. But many children across the globe have few reasons to smile. They don’t have access to basic things most of us take for granted - like clean water, food or education. IKEA’s annual Soft Toys for Education campaign makes a real difference - helping thousands of new children every year get an opportunity to receive a quality education.” Per Heggenes, CEO IKEA Foundation.
Good things are Happening All Over. A small contribution can make a big difference. Here are some examples of how the IKEA Foundation donations have impacted children’s lives.
Ethiopia: Education is a primary driver for Ethiopia’s development. In 2012, UNICEF’s Schools for Africa initiative helped 238,000 children – including 25,000 refugees -- stay in school despite living in challenging conditions.
Madagascar: In Madagascar UNICEF distributed more than 57,500 school kits in 114 of the most vulnerable districts, as part of its ‘child-friendly schools’ program.
Albania: Save the Children – with the support from the Soft Toys for Education campaign in 2010 – helped to ensure that 33,150 children were enrolled in 60 schools around the country in 2012.
Burkina Faso: The Soft Toys for Education campaign helped UNICEF and partners to increase the primary school enrollment rate in Burkina Faso to nearly 80% in 2012, already surpassing the 2015 targets.
Bangladesh: Save the Children has been working with local NGOs since 2010 to improve the lives of children from the indigenous groups in the Chittagong Hill tracts. To date, the project has directly reached more than 25,000 children and 14,500 adults.
IKEA Soft Toy Video: YouTube ~ http://youtu.be/ancCp25M4Tc
About the IKEA Foundation
The IKEA Foundation aims to improve the opportunities for children and youth by funding holistic, long-term programs that can create substantial, lasting change, and enable them to take charge of their own future. We work with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life. Currently funded programs benefit an estimated 100 million children. Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org
About IKEA US: IKEA, the world's largest home furnishings retailer, was founded in 1943 in Sweden. Since that time, IKEA has offered home furnishings of good design, quality and function at low prices so the majority of people can afford them. There are currently more than 340 IKEA stores in 41 countries, including 38 in the U.S. IKEA incorporates sustainability into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment. For more information, see www.facebook.com/ikeausa, www.twitter.com/designbyikea, www.youtube.com/ikeausa
About Save the Children
Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in 120 countries, including the United States. We aim to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. In times of acute crisis, we mobilize rapid assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. For more information, visit www.savethechildren.org. Follow us on Twitter, at twitter.com/savethechildren, and on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/savethechildren.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 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.
** One euro (approximately $1.34) is split and donated to UNICEF and Save the Children from the sale of each soft toy.
IKEA US Contact: Mona Astra Liss, Corporate PR Director, Mona.Liss@IKEA.com,
610.834.0180 ext. 5852
Save the Children US Contact: Eileen Burke, Senior Director, Media and Communications Eburke@savechildren.org 203-221-4233
UNICEF US Contact: Andrea Sioris, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9136, firstname.lastname@example.org