Revolutionizing Playtime: LEGO’s ‘Play Unstoppable’ Campaign Is Empowering Girls to Embrace Creativity And Confidence

Lego Group

For children, playing is a transformative and liberating activity. As a concept, this is especially important for Black children, who are “routinely adultified, dehumanized, criminalized, and at times murdered by police—often in educational spaces where they should feel safe to play.”

LEGO Group’s Play Unstoppable campaign is “focused on celebrating the endless potential of girls when they are given opportunities to play without limits.” Their goal: “to challenge stereotypes around play and creative building.” And LEGO’s new short film, “‘More Than Perfect’ spotlights the creative possibilities that are unlocked when girls are free to play unstoppable.”

The LEGO Group launched this initiative after conducting extensive “research looking into societal trends affecting children’s creative confidence.” From their global study, the company found that when girls are younger, “three quarters (76%) feel confident in their creativity, but this declines as they get older and two-thirds of all girls often feel worried to share their ideas. This is compounded by the burden of perfectionism and anxiety about making mistakes (72%).”

Alero Akuya, LEGO Group’s Vice President of Global Brand Development, sat down with ESSENCE to discuss the importance of play, how she tries to foster creativity, and the importance of LEGO’s Play Unstoppable campaign for the future of females.

Revolutionizing Playtime: LEGO’s ‘Play Unstoppable’ Campaign Is Empowering Girls to Embrace Creativity And Confidence
Lego Group

“At the end of the day, we have a societal challenge,” explained Akuya. “I think girls, beyond the perception that it’s only adults, are more likely to listen to boys. I think girls also face another pressure, and that pressure is on perfection. So that’s a double whammy.”

“There’s this natural tendency to not listen to their creative ideas and then when they are invited to share those ideas, their competence is more or less hindered by this need to be perfect in their expression of their ideas. That obviously has major implications. During this study, what we’ve identified is that one thing we can do is rebuild our narrative and word choice when we engage with children, and specifically with girls, because it truly holds back their creative potential and their creative expression,” says Akuya.

The Play Unstoppable campaign is “in its second year, and it is meant to be a celebration of the potential of girls when they have the ability to play without limits,” Akuya stated. “There’s no silver bullet to just suddenly managing this, but we wanted to start a conversation. The film [“More Than Perfect”] is also meant to be a conversation starter, and we’re partnering with Save the Children to build different types of curriculum and programs for about 300,000 girls around the world to create more long term systemic impact.”

“Even as an adult I think it’s important for people to establish play as a practice,” Akuya shared. “Play might mean something different to each person, but for me, it’s through dance, and I actually have always written children’s stories with no intended outcome, but to express myself. I think that finding your play as practice as an adult is equally as important to ensuring that you’re fostering creativity with children or other young people around you. That might look different for everyone, but I think it’s just more of an invitation to do so.”

Ultimately, “[w]e’re trying to reinstate the role of play in society and show how important it is for childhood development at different stages of life,” stated Akuya. “While you might think play is relevant, at the preschool or elementary school age, but it’s really a lifelong skill, play as a practice. We need to ensure that there is space and time for creative problem-solving iteration, building relationships, and learning through conflict. Play does all of these things inherently, without it being so academic, and it’s also a way to release energy and spend time together.”

“More than ever, it is a necessity for us to really prioritize the value of play, and its role in the development of our children and the time and space that needs to be created for this to happen,” Akuya said. “Because what we find through creative play is that you are able to solve problems, and for this next generation, we need children to be able to solve problems that don’t yet exist today.”

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