Takalani Sesame and the LEGO Foundation Team Up to Celebrate World Play Day and Promote Children’s Learning Through Play

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Afrika Tikkun, along with Takalani Sesame Muppets Kami and Neno, host over 200 children and their families to highlight “Play Every Day” and “Play Well and Be Happy” initiatives

Johannesburg, South Africa—(May 26, 2017)Today, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind acclaimed South African children’s program Takalani Sesame, and the LEGO Foundation teamed up with Afrika Tikkun to celebrate World Play Day and highlight initiatives to give children and caregivers tools to transform everyday moments into playful learning experiences. Takalani Sesame Muppets Kami and Neno welcomed children and families to Afrika Tikkun—Orange Farm for a day of meaningful play activities designed for whole families to enjoy together.

Sesame Workshop and the LEGO Foundation share a commitment to helping children become creative, lifelong learners. Combining the LEGO Foundation’s expertise in learning through play with Sesame’s proven content development model, their partnership brings opportunities for play-based learning to both children and caregivers in South Africa through the Play Every Day and Play Well and Be Happy initiatives.

“Sesame Street has always been committed to reaching children in their earliest years of life, because it’s when we can have the biggest impact—and play is one of the most powerful ways to foster development in key cognitive, physical, and social-emotional areas,” said Sherrie Westin, Sesame Workshop’s Executive Vice President of Global Impact and Philanthropy. “Together with our partners at the LEGO Foundation, we are focused on bringing engaging and transformative learning experiences to children throughout South Africa and beyond, particularly to those most in need.”

“World Play Day is a both a celebration of children as our role models and an opportunity to advocate on behalf of play’s crucial role in young children’s positive development. Early childhood is a pivotal time for brain development, and the scientific community has found increasing evidence that infants and children are constantly learning, connecting, and engaging with their surroundings through positive playful experiences,” says Michael Renvillard, LEGO Foundation Initiative Lead for South Africa.

At today’s event, 20 families are participating in special play activities developed through the Sesame Workshop and LEGO Foundation partnership. These families will learn new ways to play with their children, leaving with greater knowledge about the importance and benefits of play. Every family will go home with a set of LEGO bricks to encourage continued engagement.

By the end of 2018, over 2,000 caregiver-child pairs in Johannesburg and surrounding provinces will participate in a Play Every Day intervention like the one today, which will include Takalani Sesame learning materials, LEGO bricks, and facilitated play activities. Play Every Day is designed to inform parents and caregivers about the educational value of play, empowering them to engage with children in ways that contribute to their early development and learning outcomes. Research is a key element of the initiative, and through ongoing formative testing and community play workshops, Play Every Day aims to improve play activities, convey important messages about playful learning, and support play activity facilitators.

Play Well and Be Happy, launched in November 2016 in the Eastern Cape, one of South Africa’s lowest educationally resourced provinces, is intended to create transformative, hands-on learning experiences for some of the most vulnerable children in South Africa. Over 1,000 Play Well and Be Happy kits, featuring the loveable Takalani Sesame Muppets and LEGO DUPLO® bricks, are being distributed to classrooms throughout the Eastern Cape, which will reach 3,000 caregivers and 30,000 children. In addition, teachers and caregivers are trained to understand and adopt learning through play concepts to foster skills like counting, spatial relationships, working memory, color, and shape recognition.


Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We’re active in more than 150 countries, serving vulnerable children through a wide range of media, formal education, and philanthropically-funded social impact programs, each grounded in rigorous research and tailored to the needs and cultures of the communities we serve. For more information, please visit www.sesameworkshop.org.

The LEGO Foundation

The LEGO Foundation aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow; a mission that it shares with the LEGO Group. The LEGO Foundation is dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents, the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play. For more information, please visit www.LEGOfoundation.com.

Takalani Sesame

Takalani Sesame is the ground-breaking South African children’s program that has educated and entertained children for over 15 years. Takalani Sesame promotes early childhood education while supporting South Africa’s mother-tongue based education policy with television, radio, digital content, and community and classroom engagement in all of South Africa’s official languages. Takalani Sesame, which airs on SABC, is a partnership between Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, South Africa’s Department of Basic Education (DBE), corporate sponsor Sanlam, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), and production partner Kwasukasukela (KWK).

Logo of Lego foundation.

Press Contacts

Hallie Ruvin, Sesame Workshop, New York, USA

Christina Witcomb, The LEGO Foundation, Billund, Denmark
+45 2030 8496

Jessica Gois, Jenni Newman Public Relations on behalf of Sesame Workshop – Johannesburg, South Africa
+ 27 (0) 11 506 7357

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