I thought that today, Leap Day, would be the perfect day to feature a book recently released in English -- Right to Play by Jesse Goossens. Highlighting the international organization Right to Play, this book gives information about a few of the countries that this group works in and what their programs look like. It has some profiles of children and coaches and even gives instruction for some of the games played by kids around the world. Because of some intense content (there is mention of physical and sexual abuse, war, disease and death), this book would be better suited for older children but, I think more effectively, for parents and teachers who can then guide children through a learning experience.
From their website, here is their methodology --
Right To Play’s ultimate programming goal is this: Encouraging behaviour change. This complex process involves more than simple knowledge and awareness building. It involves adopting and maintaining behaviours and attitudes such as self-esteem, resisting peer pressure, problem-solving and building a capacity for communication.
Right To Play improves health, teaches basic life skills and helps children and youth to develop skills to resolve conflict peacefully in some of the most disadvantaged areas in the world. Role models, family, Coaches, teachers, peers and our Athlete Ambassadors all play an important role in helping people adopt new behaviors. Through sport and play, they learn about team work, co-operation and respect – the best values of sport.
Working for over a decade now, Right to Play believes exactly what its name says -- that every child has the right to play. They use play to help teach dignity, compassion and health in countries such as Mali, Palestine and Rwanda. They not only teach sports, board games and more, but also team with other organizations to vaccinate children and educate them about the diseases prevalent in their areas. To see this book full of smiling children, knowing that they are in countries full of child soldiers, eternal warfare and HIV/AIDS, is a testament to the success of this program. Working with boys and girls, both healthy and disabled, the symbol of the organization is a red football (soccer ball) with a strong message printed on it -- Look After Yourself, Look After One Another.
I did a Google search for recent news about the organization and found an article only 5 hours old about athletes at a university in Vermont who are earning money for Right to Play by staging the world's longest dodge ball game (40 to 45 hours long!). The National Lacrosse League is pairing with Right to Play to teach lacrosse and life skills to First Nation children in Canada. And here is a heart-warming story about a disabled girl in Pakistan whose life has been changed by Right to Play. I hadn't heard about Right to Play before now but I will definitely be more aware of them and their programs going forward. They are a force for positive change in the world!
If you're interested in learning more about this organization, want to get involved or to fundraise or donate, head to one of their national sites for more information -- USA, UK, Canada, Switzerland and The Netherlands. And by all means, look for a copy of this book!
Leaping with hope for a better world,