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New LEGO-based program helps kids develop stronger communication and emotional skills

Kids can develop stronger skills through new LEGO-based program
Kids can develop stronger skills through new LEGO-based program 01:59

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's a toy that has name recognition and kids of all ages and adults love.

LEGOs are providing so much for children and a program at Carnegie Mellon University along with the LEGO Foundation is building the many benefits piece by piece for kids in our area. 

They're fun and they make you think, but the Play Included Brick-by-Brick program at CMU found LEGOs can do a lot for children's development.

Jessica Hammer, the executive director of transformational play at CMU, said this is a new program that is now in 16 sites across Pittsburgh and in other counties -- sites meaning schools, private groups or community organizations.

They found through neurodiversity research done in the U.K. that had children with autism or ADHD in the program develop stronger communication and emotional skills and build confidence. It has structured and free play, which allows children to develop in a positive way.

But people with this program at CMU believe the benefits can be applied to all kinds of children.

"We're giving kids a low stakes -- no academic outcomes are riding on it -- but structured, meaningful way to do physical things together with their peers," Hammer said.

"The experience of learning can be joyful and delightful in and of itself. These aren't necessarily opposed, we're just designing a situation and an experience and a context where the learning and the fun are the same thing," Hammer added. 

The university is hoping the program will continue to grow, with a goal of having 1,000 sites across the country in the next three to five years. More information about the program can be found on CMU's website.

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