Play Express with the LEGO Foundation with the LEGO Foundation
In order to increase perception on the value and importance of playful learning as a key part of child development, Purpose continued our Together for Play partnership with the LEGO Foundation through the implementation of the Play Express (Expresso de Brincar).
Journeying through 11 cities, the Play Express has taken learning through play all through Brazil. Over 8,000 parents, caregivers, and children of all ages have come together – enjoying play stations dedicated to different activities for developing children, such as creativity, mental health, physical health, emotional health, and more.
In a context of deep inequality and segregation in Brazil, playing has become a privilege.
Parents and caregivers, especially those in greater social vulnerability, struggling with conflicting priorities – making it more difficult to dream of a more fun life for their children.*
More likely to also not have had opportunities for playful learning when they were children, these parents and caregivers not only need to access knowledge about learning through play, they need to experience it.
* Data taken from the research “Playing in Brazilian favelas”
After actions carried out by Movimento Unidos Por Brincar (Comunidades do Brincar and SP Cidades do Brincar), we were certain that, after two years of the COVID pandemic, parents and caregivers were eager to participate in face-to-face events and provide children with moments of interaction and enjoyment.
With more than 71% of the population fully vaccinated, life began to return – slowly – to what it used to be. Thus, kids were able to experience their social life which became another relevant entry point.
Bearing this in mind, the Expresso do Brincar (Play Express) intervention was planned to be launched from the second quarter of 2022 on, so we could be aware of any restrictions related to the COVID-19 that could affect the intervention. We also planned the intervention by taking all the necessary precautions to ensure protection against COVID 19.
Theory of Change
By inviting parents and caregivers in situations of social vulnerability from all over Brazil to experience the power of playing, we were able to increase the perception of the value of playful learning, making them acquire a sense of urgency for the need to make playful experiences more readily available and accessible where they live.
Expresso do Brincar (Play Express) provided a full experience of playful activities for children, parents, and guardians, with the aim of increasing the perception of the value of playful learning in childhood. We also aimed for decision makers to acquire a sense of urgency to implement similar spaces throughout Brazil.
The Play Express traveled to different cities in Brazil, partnering with local community centers, museums, and grassroots organizations to implement playful learning experiences at family-friendly events. Together we brought together parents and caregivers of children between 3-10 years old, from a wide range of sociodemographic backgrounds. Using nostalgia as an entry point, we connected parents to their own childhoods – many of them used our play stations to teach their children how to play through their own experiences growing up.
From the city of São Paulo to Salvador, the Expresso do Brincar traveled more than 8 thousand kilometers, going through eleven cities in four Brazilian states (São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Bahia), holding 21 events in total.
In order to escalate and expand the Together for Play Movement (Movimento Unidos Por Brincar) to other regions of the country, we chose Salvador as the last stop of the intervention, because it is one of the biggest capitals of the Brazilian northeast and a region that has a high population density and a lot of potential to spread the movement.
At the end of the Play Express (Expresso do Brincar) intervention, the train was donated to the city of Salvador. During the commemoration event of the project, which took place at CEU de Valéria, a cultural center of the region and a place where the intervention was carried out. The event featured speeches by representatives of different municipal secretariats, the mayor of Salvador and the first lady, who is currently the “godmother of early childhood” of the city.
To move parents and caregivers from awareness to activation, we put in place four tactics: online campaign, intervention, legacy, and advocacy.
– Online campaign: We started communicating with parents and caregivers by bringing creative elements with references that evoked memories of their childhoods. .
– Intervention: To encourage participation in the Play Express activities and attract the attention of parents and caregivers, we promoted small learning experiences through playful installations in places of great circulation of our target audience to give a “teaser experience” and invite them to our activation.
– Legacy: To escalate playful learning, we created ideas and materials that were shared with parents and caregivers so that they could continue to play with their children at home.
– Advocacy: By engaging parents and caregivers in playful learning, we gave political attention to the importance of playing for children’s development. The public was encouraged to support policies and initiatives that could broaden the scale of playful learning.
The Play Express (Expresso do Brincar) went to Uruçuca (BA), a very small and vulnerable city with many children, but few opportunities for kids to play.
During the intervention, a large number of children attended who were thrilled with the opportunity to play in this format. It was all very new to them, and it was beautiful to see them discovering a different way of playing that stimulates interaction and creativity.
The Play Express (Expresso do Brincar) was a “blast” in the city and on the 2nd day, we had new requests from classes and schools. Even private schools that had shown no interest at first (hoping to have bigger toys, playgrounds, pogo sticks etc.) brought their children in.
Volunteers from the Department of Education reported learning a lot from the activities and expressed interest in replicating the play experiences. This showed us that it is very important to consider educators as a key audience in our activations. They are open to listening, learning, and implementing our methodologies and can be an important agent in bringing the message of learning through playing to parents.
Play Express (Expresso do Brincar) is supported by Aliança pela infância, NaPracinha, Parque Radical de Deodoro, Pró-Saber and NGO Nova Geração Brasil and the partnership of Instituto Alana, Fundação Bernard Van Ler and RBAC, which were extremely important for the implementation and dissemination of the campaign.
Play Express also caught the attention of the media, with organic production of +100 online and offline stories, totaling about 36 million visits to the stories about the intervention.
Play Express (Expresso do Brincar) mobilized eight organizations, acting as amplifiers and mobilizers throughout the entire intervention. In addition, we have four partners at the national level who are open to encouraging play throughout the country.
We also had the privilege of working alongside educational institutions, having 18 schools involved that took children to play at the Play Express. In addition, most caregivers (99%) left the intervention more motivated to encourage children to play, 98% were able to see the relationship between playing and learning, and 83% reported being interested in learning more about playful learning.
“It helped me remember the past and to not let this feeling go – to try to give that to my kids as well.”- Relative in a post-event interview.
“The biggest learning from partnering with Expresso do Brincar was the importance of playing as a family. We now have a stronger reference to make a positive social impact in our city, with new tools and skills to turn parents into champions of our playful movement. And what resonates most with me is the possibility of connecting these playful moments to a learning experience. That’s what I want to keep doing from now on.”- Flávia Pellegrini, founder of Na Pracinha, in an interview.
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