+
LEGO donates $143 million to address 'global early childhood emergency' exacerbated by pandemic
Photo courtesy of The LEGO Foundation

The Build A World of Play Challenge will award organizations innovating for early childhood development.

Kids' play fads come and go, but there are certain classic toys that never get old. Of such timeless toys, the simple LEGO brick stands out as it has spanned multiple generations and is still going strong. In fact, LEGO building sets have only seemed to get better and more popular in recent decades. (Full disclosure: Huge LEGO fans in my household.)

As the Danish company celebrates its 90th year in business, it's re-upping its dedication to early childhood development. The LEGO Foundation is launching a whopping $143 million grant challenge—its largest public grant ever—to help mitigate issues facing young kids, many of which have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Build A World of Play Challenge is a global grant competition for organizations around the world that are "exploring evidence-based innovative solutions to the biggest problems" affecting early child development, including "access to quality early childhood education and care, adequate nutrition, eradication of toxic stress in homes and communities, reduction of violence in homes and communities, protection from pollution, and supporting the social and emotional well-being of the whole family."


The competition is now open, and participants enter by registering first (via this link before April 7, 2022) and then submitting a full application prior to May 17, 2022. Submissions will be evaluated on how impactful, feasible, sustainable and community-oriented their work is. Three winning organizations will receive approximately $30 million and two will receive $15 million. Ten additional finalists will receive approximately $1 million each to "strengthen their proposed plans, start building the team, and skill up to successfully implement their innovation."

Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, chair of the board of directors at The LEGO Foundation (and fourth-generation member of the LEGO owner family), emphasized that children have the right to safety, quality education and healthcare, but early childhood development has been grossly underfunded.

“Children are the builders of tomorrow," he said in a statement. "To build a better world for future generations—focusing on innovation and action—we must work together. If we do not invest in the youngest children in our society, we don’t invest in our collective future.”

The LEGO Foundation CEO, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, explained why the organization is focusing so intently on kids from birth to age six:

“We are currently facing the biggest global early childhood emergency that the world has ever seen. The quality of experiences in the first few years of a child’s life is where brain development is in its most adaptive and rapidly developing state. They also provide the foundations for learning, health and behaviour in the long-term – investment in which we know improves educational outcomes, develops holistic skills, and enhances quality of life. Providing whole-child support through early childhood development interventions is one of the most powerful and cost-effective equalizers we have at our disposal. Through the Build A World of Play Challenge, we want to join forces with others to urgently address the biggest challenges societies globally face, with creative, actionable ideas that put children at the centre of global decision making. We must start building a world that puts the youngest in society first: building cities, education systems, healthcare systems and solutions to save our planet, at the forefront. This competition is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of the youngest children.”

Kudos to LEGO for putting a flood of resources toward the well-being of the youngest among us. Children truly are our future, and if we neglect their needs and their potential in their earliest years, we are harming not only them but ourselves.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

Keep ReadingShow less

Kevin Ford with his daughter Seryna.

Kevin Ford, the Las Vegas airport Burger King employee whose story went viral after he displayed the meager goodie bag he received after 27 years of never missing a day of work, might have started off feeling less than hopeful. But after his story reached the masses, his faith in humanity has been restored.

The original video showed the 54-year-old displaying the bag’s mediocre contents: a reusable Starbucks cup, one singular movie ticket, a couple of pens, a lanyard, some keychains and cheap candy (no offense Reese's and Life Savers).


@thekeep777 He's Worked for the Company for Almost 3 Decades and Has Never Called Out!!!😵💫🥺😱😭 #Grateful #Dads #FathersDay #Loyalty #Honor #WorkersUnite #Rewards #Thankful #NorrinRadd777 #theKeep777♬ Slide (feat. Frank Ocean & Migos) - Calvin Harris


Despite receiving a “gift” more equivalent to convention swag than a display of employee loyalty, Ford shared authentic gratitude.

“I’m happy about anything, I’m thankful for anything I get,” Ford told TMZ, “but, like most big corporations, they’ve kind of lost touch with their workers.” Ford added that before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees would receive anniversary checks, sharing that he initially thought that’s what the movie ticket was.

TMZ later reported that after Ford’s video began circulating everywhere, he received a flood of new job opportunities from potential employers near and far—including one position restoring classic cars and another working at a beachside restaurant in South Carolina. However, as he was close to retirement at his current job, Ford passed.

That’s when Seryna, Ford’s daughter, created a GoFundMe campaign.
Keep ReadingShow less

Goodbye. Maureen. Your "favorite child" will miss you.

What makes a good obituary? First, it should probably reflect the essence of the recently deceased person in an authentic, honest light. Second, it should feel personal, showing how that person’s life affected the lives of others. Then, of course, the right dash of humor can certainly help spark joy in an otherwise solemn moment.

New York Times journalist Caity Weaver achieved all those things masterfully in a eulogy written for her mother—the coupon-clipping, chronically late, green-thumbed Dr. Maureen Brennan-Weaver.

Caity clearly put her knack with words to good use, because her hilarious tribute quickly went viral on Twitter, leaving people not only with a good giggle, but a very precise picture of her mom.
Keep ReadingShow less