Youth depart UN leadership camp with plans to use sport to tackle social issues

20 January 2012

Twenty-nine young people from nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the occupied Palestinian territory enhanced their leadership skills on how to use sport to address social issues affecting their communities during a United Nations youth camp in Doha, Qatar.

For 11 days, participants and their instructors covered a series of themes, including human rights, health, peace education, gender equity, and the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Participants will now implement the plans they developed during the workshop in their communities with the support of camp organizers and partners to ensure the legacy of the project.

“Before I had a sense that people living with a disability could benefit a lot from practicing sport, but I didn’t know how. Now I know exactly how and I feel much more comfortable working with them,” said 23-year-old Jackline, one of the seven participants from Kenya.

Like the other participants, Jackline comes from a humble background and has demonstrated an interest in helping her community, according to a news release issued by the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), which conducted the event in collaboration with a number of other partner organizations.

She grew up in the Mathare slum of Nairobi where, for the past five years, she has been active in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention and girls’ empowerment through football-based activities as a coach for a local non-governmental organization (NGO).

“The students have, until now, mostly been attentive learners; they now have the chance to become active teachers and role models,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke.

“This opportunity will be a stepping stone for them to grow personally and as leaders in order to help their communities. We will keep supporting them and will monitor their progress closely,” he added.

“Now I will be able to present to my people back home some new perspectives on their situation and on how to move forward,” said 23-year-old Basel, a Palestinian who works as a physical education teacher and a Paralympic coach.

Partners working with UNOSDP on this initiative include the Canadian-based NGO Right to Play, the Aspire Zone Foundation based in Doha, the English Premier League, the German Agency for International Cooperation, the International Paralympic Committee and Liverpool Football Club.


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