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Play for a better future

In the run up to the festive season, IKEA is putting play top of the agenda. Mercedes Gutierrez explains how the Let’s Play for Change campaign represents a long-term commitment to play.

Two children drawing on a children’s IKEA table  in a playroom.
Two children drawing on a children’s IKEA table  in a playroom.

‘Our cities are becoming “play deserts”, with more spaces for business and millennials and fewer for play,’ says Mercedes, IKEA global communities engagement manager. ‘We want to help create “play oases”, to reinstate safe spaces for play.’ The first step is to show the impact play has on wellbeing, health, social cohesion, the economy and business. ‘Play is a powerful learning tool,’ says Mercedes. ‘It gives children all the key skills employers look for.’ So it’s in every company’s interest to help create more time and space for play, to secure the workforce of the future.

If kids play more, they develop important skills like innovation, teamwork, problem-solving and curiosity

Mercedes Gutierrez, IKEA global communities engagement manager

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has a right to play. Through the Real Play Coalition, IKEA is working with the World Economic Forum, Unilever, LEGO and National Geographic to create a more playful society, as part of an ongoing commitment to children’s rights. ‘We all need to work together, with children, parents, schools, teachers, businesses, NGOs, local authorities and communities, to create more play opportunities for children everywhere,’ says Mercedes.

Technology presents many new opportunities for play. IKEA is working to create digital solutions to encourage more play – including the interactive IKEA Toy Box app, which gives children and parents ideas for transforming cardboard packaging into something new. ‘We can’t see technology as a barrier to “real play”,’ says Mercedes. ‘Instead we need to use digital tools to connect people to play more often and to create play communities.’

As part of a long-term commitment to play the Let’s Play for Change campaign is empowering children as stakeholders and encouraging more play among teens and adults, with the belief that it is crucial for a better everyday life. ‘We want to co-create with children,’ says Mercedes. ‘We need to give kids a voice – and to listen to them!’