Right To Play & IKEA Foundation partner to help 115,000+ refugee children build resilience through play

Two grants totaling €2.6 million will improve quality of education and access to youth programming in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda and Lebanon’s refugee camps.

Right To Play and the IKEA Foundation have joined forces in conflict-affected countries and territories: Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda and Lebanon to engage 115,000+ children and youth in play programs to help break down social barriers, create common ground, remove differences like gender, race and religion and promote teamwork.

Commencing now, and with the help of 2400+ specially-trained teachers and Coaches, we aim to: increase retention in school; create new behaviours regarding conflict-resolution and peace-building within the communities; and demonstrate health awareness of and protection against diseases like, malaria, HIV and AIDs.

Right To Play uses these specialized, education-based, play programs to help children living in refugee camps and surrounding communities develop the skills they need to cope with daily adversity. One example is the IKEA Foundation’s €1.6 million grant, which will deliver a three-year Building Resilience Through Sport and Play program aimed at improving school attendance and teaching young people valuable life skills, while gaining leadership opportunities.

“Children who have fled the violence in Somalia, come to the Dollo Ado refugee camp only to face a crisis of education and idleness,” says Johann Koss, Right To Play Founder, President and CEO. “These circumstances combined with the children’s needs demand an innovative solution. We believe play is the answer. With support from the IKEA Foundation we are creating programs that will engage children and youth in their education, giving them hope for a brighter future.”


The challenge in Dollo Ado:

The second largest refugee settlement in the world, the five-camp complex is home to more than 200,000 Somali refugees. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, children under the age of 18 make up 69% of the population, yet only 37% of school-aged kids attend school. The 63 per cent not in the classroom are idle with no outlets for skill-building.

Play is the solution.


Through this program, Right To Play and the IKEA Foundation use specially-designed play activities that will engage children in their education, making school a fun place to be. Shifting children’s attitudes toward school increases attendance, while the games and activities increase the quality of education and promote the development of critical life-skills in children, helping them become more resilient.

Eight hundred local teachers and youth will be trained as Right To Play Coaches to deliver programs in the camp.

“The IKEA Foundation is supporting Right To Play because we believe: every child has the right to a safe place to call home and that we can create meaningful, lasting change by investing in children’s healthy development and opportunities,” says Jonathan Spampinato, Head of Strategic Planning and Communications, IKEA Foundation.

About Right To Play 

Right To Play is a global organization, using the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. Through playing sports and games, Right To Play helps over one million children learn through play to create better futures, while driving lasting social change in more than 20 countries each week. Founded in 2000 by social entrepreneur and four-time Olympic gold medalist Johann Olav Koss, Right To Play is headquartered in Toronto, Canadaand has national fundraising offices in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Regional offices are in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Our programs are facilitated by more than 600 international staff and 16,400 local volunteer Coaches.

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Right To Play