The LEGO Foundation has launched a new accelerator programme, Play for All, designed to celebrate the strengths of neurodivergent children and help ensure all young people have the right to play, learn, and thrive.
Play for All is an equity free funding and fixed term mentorship program for social enterprises, ventures and organizations that support children on the autism spectrum and children with ADHD through play-based learning.
“When neurodivergent children are understood, valued, and empowered, everyone benefits from their important, and often, extraordinary contributions,” says Dr. Maureen Dunne, Senior Advisor and Special Educational Needs and Disability Expert for the Play for All Accelerator.
“Neurodivergent inventors, scientists, and artists have reshaped entire industries. I am thrilled that the LEGO Foundation has committed to investing in reimagining the world of play and learning so that innovators, specialists, and those with lived experience, together, can build a future that supports the full participation of neurodivergent children in society.”
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“We believe that more neurodivergent children should experience the power of believing ‘I can,’ adds Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of the LEGO Foundation. “By opening the Play for All Accelerator to organizations located anywhere in the world, those who benefit can become catalysts for future innovations. By working with partners, we aim to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of neurodiversity and challenge the stigma of diagnoses around the world. Ultimately, play helps children find and hone their strengths, giving them the best chance possible to make friends, study in school, and set themselves up to thrive in life.”
How LEGO’s Play for All program works
The Play for All initiative will provide up to $20million of funding to 25 social ventures, organizations, and social enterprises worldwide. The inaugural programme runs until February 2023 and will see participants progress through a three-phased selection process, with funding, mentorship, and learning through play expertise provided at each stage.
To progress to the second phase, organizations will be required to pitch to a panel, including the LEGO Foundation, venture capital experts, and paid neurodivergent advisors and children. A total of 12 successful candidates will progress to the final application stage where ideas will be tested, and plans finalized.
Depending on results, up to five organizations could become long term partners of the LEGO Foundation and receive funds to further their ideas and generate evidence to benefit more neurodivergent children.