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International Rescue Committee Casts Population Media Center for Play Well Audio Project

Jul 19, 2021

Population Media Center (PMC), a nonprofit leader in entertainment for social good, has been cast to create play-based, social-emotional learning content for children by the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) Play Well project. The program, supported by the LEGO Foundation, will reach more than 1.5 million children and 350,000 caregivers across select countries in Latin America and East Africa over the next year. In East Africa, Play Well collaborates with the bigger PlayMatters project, also supported by the LEGO Foundation and led by the IRC alongside a consortium of partners in Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Audio content produced by PMC’s East African creative teams will provide critical social-emotional learning support for the children impacted by crisis. In addition to creating modular content for at-home and remote students, the content will be delivered via radio and other digital platforms where internet access is limited, like refugee settlements and crisis centers. Acting together with the IRC and the LEGO Foundation, content developed by PMC for young learners in East Africa will complement standard academic learning provided by government services.

“Play Well builds upon the IRC’s innovative approach and expertise in designing educational content for crisis settings,” says PMC Program Manager Lindsay Reid. “Pair that with our proven approach to transformative storytelling and expertise in local-language audio production, and we’ll have a powerful team to deliver life-changing entertainment-education content.”

PMC’s role in the project includes the scripting and design of 20 highly entertaining modular audio episodes with specific social and emotional learning objectives. The educational content in each module will prioritize play-based learning techniques to support the LEGO Foundation’s learning that play supports children’s ability to cope with adversity.

“Refugee families and those living in communities affected by crisis and conflict are among the most vulnerable to losing access to quality education,” says IRC Play Well Project Coordinator Payton Young. “Children in these contexts have suffered loss and trauma, and they must have predictable learning spaces and structured routines to build social-emotional skills and prepare themselves to re-enter school.”

The 30-minute episodes, designed to reach children 6 to 12 years old, will meet the LEGO Foundation’s five characteristics of play: meaningful, joyful, iterative, actively engaging, and socially interactive. Activities within each module will encourage collaboration, social skills, memorization, and physical movement — all following the LEGO Foundation’s learning through play methodology.

“For 20+ years, PMC has partnered with like-minded organizations to create meaningful change through the power of media and entertainment. We are thrilled to work alongside the team at the IRC and the LEGO Foundation to create a better future for children,” says Reid.