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Lively Minds set to build a world of play with the LEGO Foundation

Over 250 million children globally under age five do not have access to education and care, which harms their physical and intellectual growth and development, making it harder for them to succeed in school and life.  In December 2022, the LEGO Foundation's  ‘Build a World of Play’ challenge will award three prizes of approximately 30 million USD and two prizes of approximately 15 million USD to organisations that will make impactful solutions. 


Lively Minds is proud to be one of the ten finalists from 627 proposals.  


A major cause of the crisis is that parents living in poverty do not provide quality nurturing care and learning opportunities because they (wrongly) believe they don’t have adequate resources and skills and don’t realise how important the early years are. 


A baseline study conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies on over 2500 parents in rural Ghana found that only 13% of parents had conducted any form of play or stimulating activity with their child in the past three days. In turn, only 1/3 of 2500 pre-schoolers surveyed could count three counters.


Lively Minds empowers vulnerable parents in Ghana and Uganda, putting their children’s futures in their hands. They have developed a scalable model where illiterate parents in deprived rural communities are trained to run free educational Play Schemes.  Parents follow a structured curriculum and teach using fun educational games that stimulate learning, improve well-being and encourage good hygiene. Mothers and fathers are given monthly group parenting workshops and weekly radio broadcasts where they learn cost-free & play-based ways to provide care and education at home using local resources that support holistic development and well-being for both child and parent. 


Lively Minds support the governments of Ghana and Uganda to deliver and sustain the programme using their existing systems and resources.  This means the materials and people-power are readily available so the programme can be delivered and sustained at a low cost.    


Between 2017 and 2018, a Randomised Control Trial conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that the programme significantly improves children's cognitive skills by the equivalent of an extra year of school. It also enhances social skills and reduces malnutrition by 20%. The programme also benefits parents. As well as improving parenting practices, it increases their confidence and standing in the community.


So, what will it mean to win the LEGO Foundation challenge? Lively Minds founder and CEO Alison Naftalin says, "Winning this Challenge would be a dream come true. It would enable us to scale the programme to every rural community in Ghana and launch in a new country. Overall, reaching over 2 million children.”


If Lively Minds are successful, they will pursue these plans in partnership with the Institute for Fiscal Studies and The Education Commission. 


Lively Minds want to change the future of early childhood development and ensure every child has access to essential care and education. If you wish to support Lively Minds please visit the donate page.