Gladiator Education and Aball1

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Gladiator Education and Aball1: Makes learning, physical activity and teamwork fun for all!

Norway, England, Pakistan, DR Congo and Sierra Leone, NorwayOslo, Norway
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Aball1 is an innovative educational tool which allows teachers to increase physical activity whilst improving numeracy, literacy & social inclusion. Beautifully simple & brilliantly effective, the activities are fun, engaging & suitable for children of all ages & abilities.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if there was a fun educational tool that was capable of increasing physical activity whilst improving academic learning and social inclusio
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

* Children are leading increasingly sedentary lives which has a long list of associated health implications including obesity, heart disease, diabetes & depression. * Many children lack the motivation to learn & are disengaged from their education reflected in poor numeracy & literacy results. * Today’s diverse societies face challenges that must be solved; we must learn to work together, respect, understanding & tolerance.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Aball1 is a set of 50 balls, 25 red, 25 blue and each with a letter and a number printed on it. Using this equipment we have created a catalogue of games teaching numeracy, literacy, science, health education and which can be adapted to support almost any subject. Each game is designed to create an inclusive and fun learning environment with children working in teams to solve physical and theoretical tasks and challenges. Aball1 has been used to teach children of all ages at schools in Norway, England, Sierra Leone and DR Congo, and refugees from countries including Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan. Gladiator Education provide the kit, resources and training. It's affordable, easy to use and it works.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Rabia (aged 9) from Pakistan is one of many girls we have met who have never engaged in physical activity – sports were of no interest to her. Within minutes of her first Aball1 session she was running back and forth with her teammates and laughing, while trying to solve the theoretical task she had been set. Mohammed (aged 7) from Oslo could not decipher letters, let alone put them in to words. “You’ve helped him crack the reading code already?!” his teacher was surprised. Playing Aball1 games had motivated him to learn; through the physical challenges and a kinaesthetic approach to building words he has learnt to read. We see examples like these every single day.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

It is estimated that Aball1 has reached over 132,000 children to date. 17% of all schools in Norway now use it (46% in Oslo) as well as a growing number in England and the rest of the world. A Vista Analyse impact report found that “Aball1 makes it possible to increase physical activity in schools without sacrificing other subjects. The concept combines physical activity and learning…the exercises have a strong focus on teamwork and communication. User experiences show us that these effects have been achieved” while Dr Gavin Sandercock said of Aball1 “a tool which can increase physical activity while maintaining or improving is of clear value to all”. Case studies from charities and schools using Aball1 have reported greater attentiveness in class, improved social skills such as communication and empathy, and improved social inclusion.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Gladiator Education have two main distribution channels; selling equipment, resources & training direct to schools and creating & delivering educational programmes in partnership with charities, youth organisations & businesses. In 2013 we doubled turnover and opened an office in London, 17% of schools in Norway now use Aball1, and in the next 5 years, we aim to reach 5,000,000 children worldwide. This will require strategic partnerships and investment.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Gladiator Education has been in business for 8 years. In 2013 the business doubled turnover and made a profit. In 2014 we expect to achieve the same turnover as in 2013. To scale up and realise the business's full potential, we need to find an investor.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are thousands of private, public and tertiary sector organisations operating in the education, physical activity and international development markets. Our strength is that what we are creating is totally unique – there is only one Aball1 – and we can work with almost any organisation who share our objectives.

Founding Story

Glenn Andersen and Tor Sandnes are childhood friends from Oslo. All grown up and with children of their own, they recognized some very real issues at their son’s and daughter’s schools; children lacking the motivation to learn, segregation between ethnic groups, children refusing to take part in sports. It turned out these issues were widespread. They wanted to do something about it, to find a different approach, so they did! Gladiator Education was born with the philosophy that learning, physical activity & teamwork can be fun for all. 8 years on, and now in partnership with Kieran Nokes, with passion and drive they are building a social enterprise whose innovative approach to learning is having an impact worldwide.


Core team Glenn Andersen, Tor Sandnes, Kieran Nokes & Shakeel Choudhari. The Board Ove Nicolaisen: Social Entrepreneur Morten Borge: Ferd Sturla Sjem: Press & Media Glenn Andersen: Owner Tor Sandnes: Owner Kieran Nokes: Owner Advisory Board Per Ravn Omdal: UEFA Vice-President Inge Solheim: Adventurer Heidi Mallace: PR & Comms Steve Moore: Former Head of Education, Channel 4 Mike Holmes: Chairman, Reliance
About You
Gladiator Education & Aball1
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name

Gladiator Education & Aball1

How long has your organization been operating?

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Organization Country

, Oslo

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Norway, England, Pakistan, DR Congo and Sierra Leone

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Foundations, NGOs, Businesses, National government, Customers.


• Spark of Innovation Award Finalist – ukactive awards (winner to be announced on 2nd July 2014)
• Connect Norge/Deloitte Social Enterprise of the year 2014
• Ferd Social Enterprise Alumni

Primary Target Age Group

3 - 5, 6 - 12, 13 - 17.

Your role in Education


Please specify which of the following best applies:

I am applying on behalf of a particular program or initiative.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with (if applicable)

Public (tuition-free), Other.

Intervention Focus

Curricular, Extracurricular, Community, Products or Services.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Putting Children in Charge: Giving children a voice and cultivating agency via experiential learning, project-based learning, and civic engagement.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Whole child development is undervalued: Essential parts of development get left behind as children get older, such as healthy habits, executive function, and social and emotional learning.

What key learning outcomes does your work seek to improve?

• Numeracy
• Literacy
• Science
• Health Education
• Physical fitness and physical literacy
• Social Inclusion
• Social skills such as communication, critical thinking, teamwork, empathy, and self-esteem

Secondary Form
PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details

We create innovative educational tools which combine physical activity with learning through a game/play based approach. These educational tools, such as Aball1, are sold to schools, youth organisations and charities who use them to increase physical activity, improve numeracy, literacy, health education, teach about recycling and more, as well as improving social inclusion and social learning, Most importantly, and at the heart of it all is making it fun!

Our projects are currently running every week, visiting schools, 4-H youth camps and education centres to deliver Aball1 sessions tailored to the specific learning objectives of the group we are working with. These sessions can last from 1 hour to a full day.

The service is delivered by our core staff - Glenn Andersen, Tor Sandnes, Kieran Nokes and Shakeel Chaudhry while teacher, coaches and facilitators are brought in to support activities ad-hoc. Often, teachers or coaches at the venue will be trained and get involved with delivering the sessions. This also means they can continue deliver Aball1 sessions in our absence.

INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.

In the UK 1/5 children leave secondary school without achieving the basic levels in numeracy and literacy. That's a huge proportion of the population. A new approach is needed.
1/3 children leave primary school either overweight or clinically obese. Children are leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles and this inactivity carries the same risk of cardiovascular disease as smoking.
The UK is an increasingly culturally diverse place. Children need to live together, to learn respect, empathy, teamwork and communication.
We have used UK as an example but these trends are common worldwide.

LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?

Learning through play fosters a positive learning environment, building a love for learning which is essential for a happy and successful life.

Learning through play is fun. When something is fun we are more engaged. We have seen the difference between teaching a class maths from a workbook and playing Aball1 games. Children are challenged, and do not find it easy, but because it is fun, engagement is much higher.

If there is a way to engage an entire class, how can anyone say that's just 'nice to have'?

SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.

In the financial year 2013 to 2014 our funding came from 3 main sources:
Aball1 equipment and resource sales - 8%
Aksjon Fraksjon equipment and resource sales - 8%
Projects - 84%

For our projects we are the architects of the programme and use our own educational resources.

MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?

The more money we bring in, the more children we will reach, and the closer to our mission we will get. The more profitable we can be as a company, the more and better solutions we can bring to the marketplace.

Last year, we doubled turnover to £300k, breaking even for the first time. We are on target to match that this financial year.

FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?

Under our current model: 20% goes to salaries. 20% to pay bills. 10% to R&D. 10% to sales & marketing. 10% to travel. 10% to production costs. 10% to unexpected cost. 10% to Charity.

We would apply to the $20k across this with more focus on R&D to help children get the most out of our resources.

PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.

Many of our projects are built on partnerships. These can be for financial support or strategic. We currently have projects working with Sparebank1, 4-H, Elopak, Right to Play, The Department for Immigration (UDI), The Refugee Council, the Nukanti Foundation and the Red Cross.

COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.

Prior to being named Challenge Pacesetters we had set up a partnership with the Nukanti Foundation organising Shoot4Peace - a football tournament to educate and empower war affected youth. Raising awareness and money for educational programmes, we aim to launch the first event in September 2015.

VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?

Gladiator Education will be working to improve health, education and social inclusion worldwide - part of a movement to make learning fun and accessible for all!

We will have a comprehensive compendium of Aball1 games supporting numeracy, literacy, health education and many other subjects with improved video, apps and online support. Aksjon Fraksjon will grow and we will introduce new educational games.

IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time

More children like physical activity!
More children like to read!
More children like mathematics!
More children are socially included!
A recent Vista Analyse impact report found that these effects are achieved when Aball1 is used regularly.

Across all of these, we want to make learning and physical activity fun, to help children develop a love for these which they can use to achieve life-long success.

IMPACT - REPORTING SAMPLE: Please attach any examples of your impact reporting. [optional]:
RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE: Please link or attach any research or evidence resource you are open to sharing more widely [optional]. Building research and evidence is a key aim of this initiative, and the resources you share may be chosen for listing in the Center for Education Innovations library:
SOURCE: If applicable - who created the research or evidence you are choosing to share? :
IMPACT - REACH: How many people did your project directly engage in programmatic activities in the last year?

50,001 to 100,000

STUDY: Has an external evaluation or study been conducted of your organization?


Other (please specify)
Number of Employees:

Fewer than 10

Number of Volunteers:

Fewer than 10

APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.

Physical Play, Play with Objects, Games with Rules, Creating a Supportive Socio-Emotional Environment, Educational Structuring (developing playful projects within educational contexts).

Other (please specify)
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.