Education through active role-play is serious business for KidZania founder
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Mexican investment banker turned entrepreneur Xavier Lopez has always had a passion for educating children. His vision to elevate role-play into an enriching, meaningful experience for children around the globe has become the driving force behind KidZania, now an internationally acclaimed educational entertainment concept.

Named as one of the greatest franchises for travelers by CNN, KidZania combines role-playing and real-life experiences in an interactive kid-sized city, allowing children to discover life skills and future careers through independent, one-of-a-kind fun.

Fifteen years after the first KidZania opened in Santa Fe, a neighborhood in his native Mexico City, Lopez shared that they now have 16 locations globally and nine upcoming developments which will give KidZania presence in 22 countries, including the play city in Manila. “Our goal is to bring fun and learning to as many children as possible,” he said. 

At KidZania, the unadulterated joy of play reigns over electronics and other tech gadgets. As each experience is completely hands-on, the kids’ city provides contextual learning experiences about teamwork, independence, self-esteem and other valuable life skills.

“Reports in the US say that children nowadays spend seven hours in front of a screen—from TV to mobile devices—on average,” said Lopez. “We want our young visitors to interact and learn with, and from, other kids.”

KidZania also aims to teach young ones about the world of work and financial literacy. Here, children are given free rein to roam around and explore, and the freedom to earn, save, invest, and spend KidZos, the official KidZania currency.

“Some children think that getting money is as easy as withdrawing cash from an ATM. Through KidZania, they can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of how hard their parents work, in order to provide for them,” added Lopez.

Lopez said that KidZania is all about “performance with a purpose,” or doing good and doing it well. The Mexican entrepreneur added that this “win-win-win” plan allows them to combine business with making a positive impact.

“Children win because they have a venue where they can play their favorite game and learn while having fun. Parents win because we promote values and skills in a safe, secure environment,” he explained. “Companies and institutions that support us win because they can establish affinity with a younger market while doing something good. Our team also wins because we offer a fun, well-intended product, while working with children and making a difference in their lives.”

Manila gets ready for KidZania

In the Philippines, KidZania Manila will be operated by Play Innovations, Inc., a subsidiary of ABS-CBN Corp. Set to open at the Bonifacio Global City in early 2015, the play city is being designed to feature universal favorite activities in KidZania around the world as well as unique attractions that consider local community contexts.  “We want to introduce careers that play relevant and valuable roles in our society,” said Play Innovations president and CEO Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas.

“We made sure to study the market and understand the needs of children here in the Philippines. We consulted with educators to make sure that kids will not only have an unforgettable and fun KidZania experience, but will also encourage them to dream and imagine, gain a deeper understanding of how the world works, and inspire them to believe that a better world is possible,” Pangilinan-Arenas added.


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