Special commendation - COVID

Due to the exceptional challenges the year 2020 brought us, which greatly affected everyone around the world: children, parents, employees, etc… the Play for Change Awards decided to this year – exceptionally – look into some of the initiatives that toy makers had set up to help people deal with the COVID-19 crisis. All of the initiatives that were sent in were commendable and deserve praise. But the jury decided to provide a special commendation to two companies for their efforts in supporting children and the wider community.

Learning Resources® Home Learning Support

The creation of activity sheets that teachers, parents, grandparents and other carers could download for free and use with children who were confined to their homes for their education. This came with added advice and guidance via the company’s blog pages. The worksheets were translated into local languages in 7 countries and the ‘service’ continues to be available online. When the UK’s second lockdown set in and children stuck at home were going through a difficult time, Learning Resources® started a social media campaign called Wellness Wednesday with weekly free tips, insights and advice to help teachers and parents support children through this difficult time.

The jury felt this initiative should be especially commended as it managed to reach a wide audience of children in different geographies. They especially liked the fact that the activity sheets were created focusing on a whole array of school curriculum areas and were really meant for education purposes, as the kids were away from school. They also welcomed the special attention on the psychological wellbeing of the children in the UK through the Wellness Wednesday campaign.


Mattel for its #Keep Playing Relief Efforts

In Europe, Mattel donated masks as well as encouraged the use of masks; they donated toys to charities and hospitals and created an online Mattel Playroom. In Italy, they created a ‘thank you heroes’ special line of toys to emphasize the importance of those people who were helping in the crisis. The Mattel Playroom is a free digital resource for parents and caregivers to encourage kids to #keepplaying. It was created as a solution for those parents and caregivers who had to juggle both working and taking care of the children at the same time and in the same space, i.e. their home.

While the array of actions to try to offer relief in many different ways was impressive, the jury especially welcomed the Mattel Playroom where the company also found the opportunity to echo its actions against racism. The jury welcomed the access to content from Mattel brands but even more so the expert advice and tips for parents and caregivers, both around the wellbeing of children, how to help play but also on navigating race-focused conversations with the children.