Seattle's Child

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Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, left, and kid reporter Jazlyn 'Jazy' Guerra build LEGO bricks together after the LEGO Group's Play Unstoppable press conference on Friday, June 2, 2023 in Seattle. (Stephen Brashear/AP Images for The LEGO Group)

LEGO encourages girls to explore their interests freely

Partners with soccer legend Megan Rapinoe

LEGO is not an unfamiliar name in our household and in most homes around the country. We know and recognize them for their brightly-colored building blocks, light-blue colored construction manuals, and sets that portray scenes from their many themes. But does everyone play LEGO? I know that my boys do, but do girls play in the same way as boys? Are girls given the opportunity to discover and pursue their many interests in the same way as their male counterparts?

Answering these questions and championing opportunities for all girls is a part of LEGO’s mission. With the creation of programs like Team Unstoppable, Unstoppable Play, and newly designed LEGO sets, the popular building blocks company has set its sight on removing obstacles for children. In particular, for girls who want to explore their own passions and interests.

two kids standing in front of soccer poster and a trophy made out of LEGO

My kids at the LEGO Play Unstoppable event celebrating empowerment and play.

Boys vs. Girls

At my house, my two sons are passionate about building sets, breaking them down, and then creating new sets from their own imagination. Society’s assumption is that boys are naturally inclined to play in this way and are “wired” for this kind of structural and imaginative play. But what about the girls?

For decades communities have stereotyped boys’ and girls’ play- girls take on the role of the mother, caring for a baby doll and cooking in a pretend kitchen, while boys played sports or engineered their way through block-building, locomotives, track-building or racing cars. Similarly, this social construct has surrounded children so much so that even at birth, they are covered in pink to signify that baby is a girl and blue if a boy.

A LEGO Designer from Denmark posing with two boys

My kids spoke with a LEGO Designer. Her advice to someone who wants to do what she does? Keep designing and creating in everything that you do.

The research: Girls can play too

The LEGO company recognizes that girls have many passions and interests. In a 2021 study by the LEGO Group, carried out by the Geena Davis Institute, researchers found that 62% of girls believe that some activities are just meant for girls, while others are meant for boys, compared to 74% of boys.

“We want to show the world what’s possible when we encourage girls to explore their interests freely, without the influence of unintentionally false assumptions of what they may like to do, how they want to play, or who they can or should be,” said Renee Guida, director, Masterbrand at the LEGO Group. “In support, we offer a wide range of play experiences and initiatives that ensure girls are free to play in any way they feel is right for them, especially as they continue exploring what interests them.”

Boy kicking the soccer ball at a LEGO press event

Kicking soccer balls in the mini-pitch.

What’s LEGO doing about the disparity?

This year, LEGO wants to break these stereotypes, so they’ve partnered with soccer legend Megan Rapinoe and other elite and influential stars to encourage girls to go after their dreams, be passionate about what they like to do and play as they wish. The LEGO Group has also created a play stadium in various parts of the United States that bring families together to explore play through brick building and other activities. They’ve also partnered with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, opening mini-pitches in several communities. Mini-pitches are open areas to play soccer, a game of tag, or whatever a child’s imagination leads them to do.

LEGO wants to shift the model that parents are using as well. Through their research, the LEGO Group found that growing up, parents were not given the opportunity to play in their own way. Therefore passing that same behavior down to the next generation. LEGO provides these open spaces and activities for accessibility, giving parents the opportunity to help their children try new things and play in their own way.

The new LEGO set has female soccer minifigures, a goal, and an audience

Icons of Play: More than just a LEGO set

LEGO has also added another set to their sports-themed constructions: LEGO Icons of Play. This set is a new women’s soccer-inspired set that will have kids enthusiastically yelling, “GOAAAAL!” throughout their pretend play. Build a soccer stadium with fans sitting in the stands and soccer players on the green field. Move the players around to kick the soccer ball into the goal. Then use the handle to crank the audience up and down as your child makes them cheer for the winning team.

Icons of Play is not just a set though. It inspires imagination and strives to break stereotypes. Featuring minifigures that represent international stars like Asisat Oshoala, Yuki Nagasato, Sam Kerr and Megan Rapinoe, the intention of the build is for every female to see themselves in these soccer players and as an engineer, connecting each set, brick-by-brick.

Team Unstoppable: Fostering passions

Team Unstoppable was created in response to these negative social constructs placed on girls. The team is a group of women and girls who break down societal stereotypes and play their own way. This group includes soccer legend Megan Rapinoe, journalist and author Elaine Welteroth, Olympic gymnast Sunisa Lee, content creator and entrepreneur Anna Sitar, clothing designer Kheris Rogers, kid journalist Jazlyn Guerra, content creator and educator Taylor Cassidy, and many others.

Members of the team encourage girls to play, take a chance with their passions, and defy expectations as they try their interests. Former captain of the U.S. women’s national soccer team Megan Rapinoe said, “Children have multiple passions. Often people tend to nurture the ones that emerge or the ones we’d like to see grow stronger, but it’s so important for girls to feel they can freely explore more than one passion and play their own way. Everyone knows me as a force on the field, but off the field (I) love fashion and am passionate about equality. It’s so important for girls to know and explore in their own lives, too.”

And it’s working. Stories of girls chasing their dreams, taking a chance, and trying new things are on Read about young women who change their community through music. Others have made a difference through donation drives or the creation of buddy benches. All are inspiring stories for every child, boy or girl.

For more information on the Play Unstoppable program and others in your area check here. Currently, the play stadium will travel to Los Angeles, Kansas City, Columbus, Atlanta, and Houston this summer. Mini-pitches will be in New Mexico, South Carolina, and Virginia.


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About the Author

Jasmin Thankachen

Jasmin is the Associate Publisher at Seattle's Child and an Eastside mom of two boys. She enjoys parenting with lots of love and laughter. Co-Founder of PopUp StoryWalk, she also loves children's picture books, essay writing, and community stories.