LEGO Friends is reaching out to young girls again, and this time they want to talk about it.
There was something of a backlash a few years ago when LEGO first introduced their Friends line of bricks—a line targeted directly at girls. The fact that LEGO was encouraging girls to build and be creative wasn’t the issue, but rather that the bricks were every cliché of pink and pony you can think of, or at least that was how I heard it from my Facebook feed. Some people found the line to be somewhat pandering in its attempt to be girl-friendly. I am not saying this to pile on LEGO, far from it, I’m a fan of the real world settings provided by LEGO Friends. My boys have played with plenty of LEGO Friends sets without batting an eye (although “real world” becomes increasingly relative the longer they play). Where some might see limits they tend to see possibility, and I am on board with every opportunity they seize. I have even been known to encourage it. Turns out that pink and ponies never hurt anybody (not to be confused with Pink the singer as she has, and I’m just guessing here, hurt somebody at some point).
Now LEGO Friends is reaching out to girls again, and this time the reception is (and should be) one of welcome arms. Also, feet. LEGO Friends has teamed with Girls on the Run, a youth development program for girls that is based on physical activity. According to a press release:
The partnership will incorporate an activity adapted from the LEGO® Serious Play® methodology into the GOTR curriculum which is designed to further develop girls’ social, psychological and physical skills. Girls in grades 3 through 5 will engage in solo and group building challenges that will tap their creativity and hone their problem-solving, critical thinking and social skills.
Girls on the Run teaches life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5k running event. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness. Over the course of the program, girls will develop and improve competence, feel confidence in who they are, develop strength of character, respond to others and oneself with care and compassion, create positive connections with peers and adults, and make a meaningful contribution to community and society.
“Our LEGO partnership is born from our common goal of unleashing confidence through accomplishment,” said Elizabeth Kunz, president of Girls on the Run International. “We’re excited to offer this new LEGO Friends building activity to our nationwide councils so girls can use bricks to tell stories that help them embrace their differences and discover their strengths.”
The GOTR LEGO building activity is based on LEGO Serious Play® methodology and insights that shows that hands-on, minds-on play produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities. The activity will guide teams through a simple process where coaches will pose a question, the girls will build in response, everyone will share a story about what they built and then reflect together on similarities and differences through a question and answer period.
“Given our mission to provide meaningful play experiences to children,” said Michael McNally, brand relations director for LEGO Systems, “we are proud to support Girls on the Run and their creative approach to teaching important lessons in understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large. We are excited to see how this LEGO-based activity will spark meaningful conversations and allow girls to show not just what they made, but also what they’re made of.”
It’s about building confidence, which is why I am sharing this article here, because dads and families build confidence, too. It’s our thing.
Basically, the partnership creates an opportunity for parents and girls to create meaningful conversations and strengthen critical story-telling—something that I am a big fan of.
We’re storytellers in our family, and we also play with LEGO. A lot. And, as luck would have it, we also run. Of course, I have two boys, but we’ve never let something like gender define us. That’s what society is for!
Over the years we have used LEGO sets, including LEGO Friends, to talk about our dreams and our days. What do you want to be when you grow up? What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you? What is your favorite thing to do? Where do you really want to go? And so forth and so on. We all ask, we all build, and we all talk about it. We have similar conversations while running (we lose more LEGO bricks that way).
A family that talks together is a wonderful thing, and it is refreshing to see a large corporation take such an invested interested in it.
What are some creative ways that you have encouraged conversation and built confidence with your children?