The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating to the world’s most marginalized children. Along with the threat from the virus itself, disruptions like school closures, loss of familial income, political instability, and social isolation create a disproportionate impact on the lives of vulnerable children.

Children who already faced poverty, discrimination, abuse, and neglect are now at greater risk than ever of dropping out of school. Girls in particular are at risk of undergoing profound violations of their rights like child marriage, underage pregnancies, child labour, and female genital mutilation (FGM).

In Canada, existing inequities for Indigenous youth have only been worsened by the effects of COVID-19. For communities already faced with a lack of access to educational resources, to clean water, and to health services, the pandemic means yet another barrier between youth and the bright future they deserve.

But children are refusing to give up. A seat means an opportunity to build a better life.

A seat in a classroom provides children with an education, with a social group, and with confidence. A seat at the table – where decisions affecting their future are made –gives children and youth agency over their own lives.

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We believe in a world of incredible possibilities for kids, possibilities they can reach if only they are given the opportunity. Saving a child’s seat is that opportunity.

Every child has a unique set of challenges they are facing. But they also have the capacities they need to overcome these challenges. They only need the chance to unlock them.

Education matters. 11 million girls are at risk of dropping out and never returning to school. They are twice as likely as boys to drop out and stay out, even after the pandemic is over. Education cultivates confidence, a commitment to learn, and hope. For girls, education is the foundation of an equitable future where they are respected and successful.

Youth leadership matters. It means the difference between a society where our most marginalized are allowed to slip through the cracks and one where they can use their voices to shape their future. We can help address the challenges faced by children and youth, but first they need to be heard.

Right To Play's unique play-based programs protect, educate and empower children. Every seat you save helps to create positive and safe environments where children can use play in all its forms to learn and grow, and build confidence and skills that last a lifetime.

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Children want to learn. Play-based learning in the classroom helps them discover their talents and strengthens their commitment to staying in school.


Children are standing up to the inequalities the pandemic is making worse. Here are just a few of the 2.3 million children Right To Play empowers each year:

Sadia, Pakistan
Sadia wants to be a pilot someday, but she’s been forced to drop out of school after COVID-19 closed all the free public schools in her neighbourhood. She’s continuing to study with a Right To Play-trained tutor so she can chase her dream of flying.

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Aissa, Mali
Mali is one of the toughest places on earth to be a girl. But a new generation of young women in Mali is refusing to accept these limits. They are inspiring girls across Mali to claim their voices, resist customs that would harm them, and rise above barriers. Aissa is one of these leaders.

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Indigenous Youth Leadership, Canada
In Dauphin, Manitoba, a community with limited resources for youth, two Junior Community Mentors are determined to make a change. Mairen and Jess, both 16, took action to develop and run online programs during lockdown and a free summer camp for kids in their community.

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Learn more about Sadia, Aissa, and our work in Canada.

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