IKEA and UNICEF realise the results from the “Soft toys for education” initiative in 5 Bulgarian cities

03.02.2016 13:51

More than 12 million children in over 46 countries have been provided with a better access to education thanks to the global initiative

Children from 5 cities in Bulgaria have been provided with an access to early learning, support, protection and security thanks to IKEA and UNICEF’s joint “Soft toys for Education” project. The initiative has been realised for the third consecutive year in Bulgaria and is part of the IKEA Foundation, UNICEF and Save the Children’s global campaign. 

More than 55 000 soft toys have been sold in the last three years during IKEA’s campaign in Bulgaria, the total sum amounting to BGN 110 610. The raised funds were used to ensure  the cosy atmosphere, furnishing and the provision of educational materials in the newly established child centers, supported by UNICEF in 5 Bulgarian cities, namely: the Early Childhood Development center in the city of Kotel, Services for children in conflict with the law “Child and Youth zone” in Sliven, Child Advocacy Centers in Sofia, Montana and Shumen. 

UNICEF’s programs in Bulgaria are directed towards children from the most vulnerable groups: children living in poverty, in small and remote areas, in institutions, children with disabilities, refugee children, children and youth in conflict with the law, children from ethnic minorities, etc.

Even though 2015 was the final year of the “Soft toys for Education” campaign, the partnership between IKEA and UNICEF Bulgaria, as part of the global partnership between the United Nations Children’s Fund and the IKEA Foundation, shall continue throughout 2016 with the goal to realise children’s rights in Bulgaria.

Photo: Anton Krastev "Creative Visual Solutions"

“We are truly grateful for our partnership with UNICEF, we are also thankful to all of IKEA’s employees and our clients, because with joint effort we manage to make even more children and their families’ lives better” said Teo Mouratidis, IKEA Bulgaria’s manager. 

“UNICEF has undisputable proof that the most important period of a child’s development is his/her early childhood. Thus it is essential to invest and ensure children with an opportunity for access to learning and education, especially those from vulnerable groups- children living in poverty, in institutions or with disabilities. We shall continue to work and advocate in the name of children together with our partners from IKEA, so that more children in Bulgaria have their rights realised. Because every child matters”, said Mrs. Maria Jesus Conde, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria.   

Mr. Miroslav Borshosh, Director of the National Palace of Culture (NPC) expressed his support for child rights advocacy and the promotion of early childhood development by creating a “Play and read area” in “Peroto” (The Feather) - a newly-established literary club in NPC. The cozy atmosphere has been created by IKEA, while the educational toys and the materials for parents have been provided by UNICEF.

About the global initiative 
More than 12 million children around the world have better schools, teachers and educational materials thanks to the IKEA Foundation, UNICEF and Save the Children’s 13-year long partnership.

Since 2003, the “Soft toys for Education” initiative has contributed 88 million euro to UNICEF and Save the Children campaigns, ensuring a better access to schools for the most vulnerable children. The raised funds also go for the training of teachers, for educational materials and the securing of a more stable environment for children in their schools and communities.

“Education is the most certain way out of poverty. All children have the right to education but a lot of them still do not have access to it. Being in partnership with UNICEF and Save the Children for the last 13 years has allowed us to approach the issue on a strategic level and invest in the improvement of education in some of the most vulnerable regions of the planet – at the same time, we are truly grateful to IKEA’s clients and employees for working hard in order to turn this right into a reality for over 12 million children” said Per Heggenes, Executive Director of the IKEA Foundation.

For a second consecutive year, we invited children from all over the world to take upon the role of designers and create a special collection of soft toys - and they started giving life to some of the most fantastical creatures. Out of 52 000 drawings in total, 1 200 were from Bulgaria. A special jury selected 10 winners out of all the drawings that were sent. This year’s winners are from: Thailand, Spain, Hong Kong, The Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Turkey and Canada. 

About the IKEA Foundation  
The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in the world’s poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change.  The Foundation works with strong, strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieving large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life:  a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and a sustainable family income.  Currently funded programmes benefit an estimated 100 million children by 2015. Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org

About UNICEF  
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  For more information about UNICEF and its work visit www.unicef.org.

За Save the Children  
Save the Children е водещата в света независима организация за деца, която изпълнява програми за подобряване на живота на децата в повече от 120 страни по света. Тя цели свят, в който всяко дете има правото на оцеляване, защита, развитие и участие. Мисията на Save the Children е да вдъхнови към ново разбиране на начина, по който света се отнася с децата и да постигне трайна промяна в живота им. Научете повече на www.savethechildren.net и www.facebook.com/savethechildren.

About Save the Children   
Save the Children is the leading global independent organisation for children that realises programs for the improvement of the lives of children in more than 120 countries around the world. It strives to create a world where the rights of every child to live, be protected, to develop and participate are realised. Save the Children’s mission is to inspire a new way of understanding how the world treats children and achieve long-lasting change in their lives. Learn more at: www.savethechildren.net

For more information:   
Yoana Tsoneva  
Marketing manager, IKEA Bulgaria  
tel.: 02/439 4540  
e-mail: joana.tsoneva@ikea.bg

Jacklin Tzocheva  
Communication Officer, UNICEF Bulgaria  
tel.: 02/9696207  
E-mail: jtzocheva@unicef.org

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