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Kids in war zones to get IKEA toys

NEW YORK – The United Nations children’s agency today said it is augmenting 24,000 kits designed to support the development of play and learning under extreme conditions by adding a range of toys from the IKEA Foundation.

“When young children are caught up in conflicts or emergencies, the opportunity to experience childhood can be lost,” the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today in a statement.

The UNICEF early childhood developments (ECD) kits, which will be distributed to 1.2 million children under six years of age over the next two years, were designed to help caregivers create a reassuring and safe learning environment.

The UN agency said that the IKEA Foundation has committed to provide eight toys from the current children’s range sold in IKEA stores worldwide for each kit at an estimated total value of $2 million.

“Each of the IKEA toys was chosen to stimulate and engage the minds of young children. The toys are part of a treasure box that makes up the ECD kits, and help restore a sense of hope and normalcy to children living in extremely difficult environments,” said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF Director of Private Fundraising and Partnerships.

“Research shows that early childhood is the most critical time for brain development. With the additional help of toys such as those donated by the IKEA Foundation, children can develop their cognitive, verbal, visual, auditory and social skills,” Ms. Pakkala added.

Each of the IKEA products was chosen by UNICEF’s educational specialists. The items include a shape sorter, a sort and stack set, finger puppets, hand puppets, school scissors, coloured building blocks, a paper pad and paper roll.

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