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Posts Tagged ‘lego’

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Photo: Ryan Donnell/Sesame Workshop
Grover from “Sesame Street” in a Rohingya camp in Bangladesh. The Lego Foundation will provide $100 million over five years to the makers of “Sesame Street” and their partners for a program for refugee children.

Most of what we know about the situation of Rohingya refugees — expelled from Myanmar (Burma) for their Muslim beliefs — is pretty dire. But here and there we see positive efforts to lessen the pain of living in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh, especially for children. Read about this partnership among humanitarian relief organizations, Sesame Street, and Lego.

Karen Zraick writes at the New York Times, “Can play help refugee children heal from trauma?

“That’s the belief behind a new partnership formed by the Lego Foundation, Sesame Workshop and organizations working with Syrian and Rohingya refugees. In its first major humanitarian project, announced [in December], the foundation will provide $100 million over five years to the makers of ‘Sesame Street’ to deepen their work with the International Rescue Committee in the countries around Syria, and also to partner with the Bangladeshi relief organization BRAC.

“The aim is to create play-based learning programs for children up to age 6 in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Bangladesh. The programs will teach basics like the alphabet and numbers, but will also emphasize social and emotional development to counter the effects of stress and suffering. They will be offered both to displaced children and to some of their potential friends in host communities.

“Officials at the organizations involved said that helping children’s brains develop during their first years — when they are absorbing information like sponges — is crucial to helping them become healthy and successful later in life, and that play is an excellent way to do it.

“ ‘We know from child development research that the best way for children to learn is through exploring their world and play,’ said Sarah Smith, the senior director for education at the International Rescue Committee. …

“The families’ needs are great. In addition to basics like adequate food and shelter, children need to foster ties with nurturing caregivers to heal from what they have witnessed and endured, said Hirokazu Yoshikawa, a director of Global TIES for Children, a research center at New York University that will conduct testing and evaluation for the program.

‘Part of the magic of human development is that very few experiences doom a child to ruin,’ Dr. Yoshikawa said. ‘But we have to address the risks early. This is particularly critical in these first years.’ …

“Erum Mariam, a program director for BRAC, said that many of the 240 play labs the organization has created for refugees were built by the children’s fathers and painted and decorated by mothers and children.

“ ‘We place a lot of emphasis on culture and on strengthening community engagement,’ she said. Within those centers, trained facilitators focus on providing enough structure to make children feel safe, while allowing for spontaneous joy.

“ ‘When a child enters the humanitarian play lab, we want the child to feel very happy and very connected to their culture and heritage,’ she said.” More here.

You may recall I wrote about Sesame Street helping Syrian refugee children, here.

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When homes are destroyed in disaster zones, the Mobile Factory can turn the rubble into Lego-like building blocks to create new housing. They snap together without mortar.

Stella Dawson of the Thomson Reuters Foundation writes, “In Amsterdam a mobile factory, the size of two shipping containers, ingests rubble at one end, liquifies it into cement, and spurts out Lego-shaped building blocks.

“Call it rubble for the people, converting the deadly debris from disasters into homes and hospitals, cheaply and quickly.

“It’s the brainchild of Gerard Steijn, a 71-year-old sustainable development consultant turned social entrepreneur, who leads the Netherlands-based project to recycle the rubble from natural disasters and wars.

“He plans to create ecologically sound and safe housing by producing 750 building blocks a day from the debris, enough for one home at a cost of less than $20,000 each.

” ‘In disasters, you have piles and piles of rubble, and the rubble is waste. If you are rich, you buy more bricks and rebuild your home,’ Steijn said in a telephone interview.

‘But what happens if you are poor? In disasters it is the poorest people who live in the weakest houses and they loose their homes first. I thought, what if you recycled the rubble to build back better homes for poor people?’

“His rubble-busting Mobile Factory has fired the imagination of a landowner in Haiti and a civil engineer at the University of Delft. They have joined forces to test Steijn’s idea and build the first rubble community in Port au Prince next year. …

“Unskilled people can build the homes with the blocks, which meet demanding Dutch construction standards to ensure they will last for many years. [Hennes de Ridder, an engineering professor at the University of Delft,] expects further stress tests he planned for Peru in a few months will show the homes can withstand temblors of at least 6 on the Richter scale.” Read more here.

Photo: The Mobile Factory
Model homes built from cement rubble are on display at an industrial park in Amsterdam. The brightly painted homes are designed for disaster zones, using technology that creates Lego-style building blocks from cement rubble.

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I often think that malls today are wasted space. Public places sheltered from the elements, they could be used so much better than they are. When Suzanne was 18 months or so, East View Mall was my favorite place for having her work off steam. She loved toddling up and down the aisles and looking at all the sights. Everyone fussed over her, which meant her sometimes wall-climbing stay-at-home mom enjoyed much-needed adult conversation.

Lately, if outdoor walking is too wet or icy, I may choose to take my morning walk in Providence Place. I think other people could consider the mall for walking and toddler entertainment. And malls themselves could promote more uses since they must now compete with online shopping and a renewed preference for small boutiques. Cities could help malls fund certain public activities.

I was quite surprised on my Friday walk to find a traveling exhibition of elaborate Lego creations in Providence Place. Lego is advertising itself while also sharing a little history of government in the United States.

So as unnerving as it was to see our beloved Independence Hall surrounded by flashy clothing stores and run-amok consumerism, I’d rather feel the inspirational vibes from Independence Hall there than not.

In addition to Philadelphia’s most beloved landmark, note the Supreme Court, the Statue of Liberty, and a gigantic recreation of the Rhode Island statehouse. These photos represent only a sample of what is there until the show moves on to another state capital. Meanwhile, there is also a nice Lego play area for kids to make their own constructions.

(Isn’t it funny how a Lady Liberty made of Legos makes my fuzzy photography doubly pixilated?)

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On the corner of Congress and Farnsworth, there is a parking lot, and on the Fort Point Channel side of the parking lot, there is a Lego-size police station. In case you are ever lost around there and need to ask for directions. If LL Bean is more your thing, there’s one by the parking lot, too. I took two pictures.

The clouds at dawn have been especially good lately. I include two shots in case you are not up early. Roses need no elaboration, but I am quite proud of how the yellow mullein turned out the second time I tried to capture it. A granddaughter was with me at the time, in the stroller.

Moving right along, there is a shot of the fishing fleet in Rhode Island. The country road photo was supposed to show you a goldfinch, but even when I zoom in, it is too tiny to see. The still pond is called John E’s Tughole. A tughole is a place where peat is harvested, but I don’t think it happens much anymore. Maybe in Ireland. I know James used to harvest peat. And burn it, too.

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“Nearly two decades ago,” writes National Public Radio, “a massive wave struck the Tokio Express, a container ship that had nearly 5 million Legos onboard. The colorful toy building blocks poured into the ocean. Today, they are still washing up on shores in England.

“Tracey Williams and her children first happened upon the Tokio Express Legos in the late 1990s. Since then, she’s created a Facebook page called — Lego Lost At Sea — where other collectors show off their findings.

“Williams, who lives in Cornwall, tells NPR’s Scott Simon that among the many small, colorful and ironically nautical-themed Lego bits are flowers, swords, life vests, scuba tanks and even Lego octopi. …

” ‘I thought it would be quite interesting, from a scientific point of view, to monitor where it was all turning up, what was turning up and in what quantities and who found it,’ Williams says.” Read more here.

I note a variation on a theme in Pen Pal (which tells what happens when a child on the Gulf Coast throws a message in a bottle into the sea and ends up with a political-prisoner pen pal across the world). Francesca Forrest, author of Pen Pal, records true stories about messages in bottles at her website about the novel, here. Like the stories of Legos washed up near England, some of the message-in-a-bottle stories are pretty intriguing.

Photo: Tracey Williams/Lego Lost at Sea

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