Cannes Lions

Autism School on Minecraft


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There are approximately 350.000 people with autism living in Turkey, but only 26.000 of them can get an education. While they should receive 40 hours of education a week, children with autism have great difficulty in accessing education. Tohum Autism Foundation, which advocates education for all children with autism, was providing special education programs in their center in Istanbul. However, only a limited number of children could join in terms of location and capacity. It was also almost impossible to have an education center for all children with autism that is near to them. That's why we sought a method that would make education accessible to all children with autism. As a foundation with limited financial resources, we should have been able to make it at a low cost and distribute it free of charge. So, we went after a digital education solution that would cost us about $1000.


We started to think about how we could create an educational platform in the digital world for children with autism and make it accessible for everyone. Opening a website or creating a series of educational videos would not be functional enough for children with autism who have difficulties with learning and focus. According to researches from the UCLA PEERS Clinic, the game Minecraft could be used as a supplementary technology during the education of children with autism. Because the Minecraft interface has a form that makes the real world more understandable for children with autism who have a hard time with social interactions, focusing on tasks, and participating in the rhythm of everyday life. We have decided to move both our school building in Istanbul and our educational programs inside the game. Minecraft's brick-based universe was going make the world easier for children with autism to understand.


The most important thing in the education of children with autism is to simplify the information as much as possible. We wanted to create an educational model to make their learning process easier without disturbing them. We found the answer in a university study. According to research, Minecraft can be used as a supplementary technology during the education of children with autism. Minecraft, released in 2011, is an open-world game that allows players to make various brick-based designs. In the game with 3D graphics, it is possible for children with autism to focus, generate solutions, and participate in social life. We transformed this interface into a permanent educational digital platform by moving our school building in Istanbul into Minecraft in accordance with its real architectural plan. We created a "different school" for children with autism, who are seen as "different" by the Turkish society, which has not been exemplified before.


We planned to create a real educational program within our digital school in Minecraft. We created a green space in the garden of our building. By creating a private server, we made our educational programs accessible to all children with autism in this sustainable green area in line with a certain calendar. For the first time in the world, a school was built in Minecraft servers and an educational program was created using the mechanical methods of the Minecraft game. Children attended the lessons such as "Technology Literacy", "Introduction to Coding", "Painting and Sculpture with 3D Printer", "What to do in Minecraft?". We have created an educational gaming platform that is accessible from anywhere in Turkey for free. We decided to announce the opening of our school on April 2, World Autism Awareness Day. We prepared a video with the instructors of our school and posted it on social media.


We drew great public attention by our project video and announcing the opening of our school. Autism School on Minecraft became a trending topic on Twitter for 6 hours. The media featured our school in both TV news and print publications. Our project reached more than 30 million people at the end of the announcement. After the announcement, 78 children with autism applied to our school and continued their education and workshops. Today, we still continue to receive applications from all over Turkey for our digital school established in Minecraft. The impact of our project was also reflected in the perception reports. Compared to 2017, the rate of those who said education is the only treatment of autism increased by 15% in 2019. The most important contribution of this educational platform was becoming an inspiration to many more educational tools for the better future of children with autism.

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Shortlisted Cannes Lions
Tohum Autism Foundation - Autism School On Minecraft

4129GREY, Istanbul

Tohum Autism Foundation - Autism School On Minecraft


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