Just Announced: 10 Champions of Learning Through Play

Today is the day. After seven months, 632 entries from 63 countries, and the selection of 305 Pacesetters and 30 Pioneers, we are proud to announce the 10 Champions in the Re-imagine Learning Challenge.

These 10 Champions were introduced on stage at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in Doha, Qatar, each selected by a panel of eight expert judges (see bottom of post) as one of the most innovative, impactful and sustainable projects aimed at transforming the way the world learns.

“Re-imagining learning requires breaking out of traditional models and institutions and venturing out on a journey filled with creativity and playfulness,” said Mirjam Schöning, Global Head of Programmes and Partnerships in the LEGO Foundation.

“These 10 Champions reflect some of the world’s most promising, high-impact, scalable solutions in the field. They are role models for equipping children with the right skills to become creative problem solvers, team players and engaged, lifelong learners. We certainly hope the world will take notice of these hidden champions.”

Who are the Champions?

Creative Classrooms Through Empowered Teachers (United States / Global)
This program, founded by Aleta Margolis in 1995, encourages teachers to be “instigators of thought,” not just information providers. Educators that complete the year-long professional development program regularly outperform their peers not only in providing engaging instruction but also in developing a responsive learning environment.

Collège Catts Pressoir (Haiti)
Collège Catts Pressoir empowers children to not only invent but also implement solutions to problems in Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. The school and the fixes that are inspired by its students receive buy-in from government and public officials, making Collège Catts Pressoir an effective program for skills building and “changemaking” in a tough environment.

Design for Change (India / Global)
Design for Change is instilling an “I can” mentality in young children. More than 300,00 schools in 34 countries have adopted Kiran Bir Sethi’s design thinking methodology, which improves learning outcomes as well as opens students’ eyes to the complexity of real-world systems—helping them graduate as effective, better informed changemakers.

Dream a Dream (India / Global)
Dream a Dream has a mission "to nurture the uniqueness of young people from vulnerable backgrounds and foster their passion for learning, so that they are able to creatively respond to the frantic pace of change in the world." This is done by boosting empathy and creativity in teachers, who then lead more engaging and productive learning environments.

Fabretto Children’s Foundation (Nicaragua)
Fabretto Children’s Foundation prepares public preschool teachers to be powerful agents of change through training sessions that introduce educators to Montessori-style and play-based methodologies. The program has impressed the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education has adopted Fabretto’s teacher training process for its nationwide programs.

Global Cardboard Challenge: Imagination Foundation (United States / Global)
The Global Cardboard Challenge introduces hands-on, project-based learning to schools through single- or multi-day events. The program’s open-source curriculum, inspired by 9-year-old Caine Monroy’s arcade, has been adopted by educators and parents in more than 50 countries and makes both Common Core and STEM lessons engaging and accessible.

Lively Minds: Community-Run Play Centres (Uganda / Ghana)
Lively Minds has trained more than 2,000 mothers in rural villages across Uganda and Ghana to run 80 child care centers where pre-school children learn through play. This project has a double impact: mothers learn about hygiene and nutrition while they sharpen parenting skills and young thinkers build both friendships and confidence.

PUPA Early Childhood Development (Brazil)
PUPA uses a high-touch, long-term approach to train low-income parents, caregivers and educators in the coastal city of Cariacica to provide young people with richer learning opportunities organized around music, play and storytelling. More than 3,000 adults are expected to be part of the PUPA network this year.

Skateistan (Afghanistan / Cambodia / South Africa)
This is much more than a skateboarding camp. Skateistan schools feature both a skatepark and classrooms for non-formal education in the arts, life skills and community engagement. Over the years, it’s become a strong education program that boasts solid learning outcomes among girls and underprivileged youth in exceptionally complicated and challenging areas.

WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) United (Kenya)
WASH United doesn’t specialize in general education, but founder Thorsten Kiefer and his team are bringing a playful energy to lessons about health and hygiene. The program’s interactive learning games push children across Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to change their behavior when it comes to toilet use, hand washing and menstrual hygiene.

Who were the Judges?

Stavros N. Yiannouka
CEO, World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE)

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp

Sarah Brown
Chair, Global Business Coalition for Education & President, TheirWorld

Vicky Colbert
Founder and Director, Fundación Escuela Nueva

David Gauntlett
Professor, Media and Communications, University of Westminster

Johann Koss
President and CEO, Right To Play International

Mitchel Resnick
LEGO Papert Professor, Learning Research and Head of Lifelong Kindergarten Group, MIT

Mirjam Schöning
Global Head, Programmes and Partnerships at the LEGO Foundation