COVID-19 has devastated communities all around the globe, resulting in long-term consequences for families, especially for those in countries and communities already reeling from years of crisis and instability. Refugee families and those living in communities affected by crisis and conflict are among the most vulnerable. Children in these contexts have already suffered loss, instability and persistent stress. Remote-learning programs offers the hope of continuation of learning, yet too often they are designed for high-resource settings and require stable internet -access.  Without innovative solutions, children in crisis-affected communities where digital access is limited will continue to get left behind. 

With a $2 million grant to the IRC’s global education response for the COVID-19 pandemic, the LEGO Foundation is partnering with the IRC to address this critical need and provide quality, remote learning opportunities to the most vulnerable. The program, called Play Well, creates and adapts play-based social-emotional learning (SEL) content to be delivered via radio, phone-based audio services, and other digital platforms where internet-access is limited, providing modular content that promotes playful learning at home. 

Play Well will produce and distribute at least 20 audio episodes for caregivers and children in 9 languages to support crisis-affected children in Colombia, Venezuela, Uganda and Tanzania. In Colombia, IRC has partnered with Click Arte, a local Colombian creative agency, to develop a play-based children’s edutainment audio program. The show, called “On the Air with Harry,” is broadcasted on RCN, Colombia’s largest radio station with a listener base of 3.5 million, delivering 20 weekly episodes. Episodes can be streamed globally online through podcasts hosting sites and delivered through SMS, WhatsApp, Signpost’s InfoPalente, and Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Next, Play Well will build upon the IRC’s innovative approach to design and distribute content for refugee children and their caregivers living in Tanzania and Uganda. Ultimately, Play Well will help more than 1.5 million children and 350,000 caregivers in Latin America and East Africa over the next year.