Archive for 24 September 2014

The power of sport in combating child poverty

Dynamo warm up

Every child deserves a chance of a bright future. For a child in poverty the stark reality is they may never have that chance. Worldwide an estimated 600 million children live in extreme poverty. For these children it’s not just their physical situation that negatively affects them. Poverty tells a child they are worthless, unloved and forgotten, robbing them of their hopes and dreams. Depriving them of a childhood.

Sport is a fundamental part of many cultures and is intrinsically linked to childhood. Sport has an ability to break down barriers, allowing even the poorest, most vulnerable child a chance to have fun and the ability to regain their childhood. Sport is by no means the single solution to ending child poverty however it can be a powerful tool if used within a wider toolkit.

The benefits of sport reach well beyond physical wellbeing. Through sporting activities children learn skills such as self-confidence, teamwork, fair play, respect and self-esteem. This in turn impacts on their education. Studies show children who participate in physical activities preform better at school and are more engaged, staying in school for longer. In a country such as Ghana where over 35 percent of children drop out before they reach junior secondary this is truly significant.

Student Engagement doesn’t just end in the classroom. Children who play sport are also more likely to be community minded, engage in community activities and go on to be leaders within their communities. During the time KickStart Ghana has been working in the Volta region we have seen children from our programs go on to lead the training sessions and coach younger players. This is all made possible though the commitment from the local communities and volunteers who have dedicated thousands of hours of volunteering and fundraising over the last seven years.

For many children in Ghana and across the world, sport gives them that brief moment to escape from the reality of poverty, giving them an opportunity to be a child again. The power of sport cannot be underestimated and it is why it is at the heart of what we do here at KickStart Ghana.

Written by Emily Laramy.

International Volunteering: A Shift in Thinking

Here is the third blog entry from our 2014 Volunteer Coordinator, Ruth Taylor.

As I sit here writing this blog (my third for KickStart Ghana), the world is facing a reality not ever experienced before. The human race, for the first time in history, is with the means to eradicate poverty from the face of the earth. We have the medicine, we have the knowledge, we have the money. All that remains to be seen is whether or not we have the will.

From my previous two posts, you’d be excused if you thought I’m some kind of hyper-critic of international volunteering in all its many forms – perhaps you even think I’d be on the side of seeing the discontinuation of the sector as a whole. Although, not entirely wrong, there is little I agree with more than the hugely transformative experience which volunteering abroad can bring about. If you want to learn about another culture and experience it first hand, if you want to form and develop relationships which span borders and oceans, if you want your acceptance of the status quo to be challenged wholeheartedly and your worldview to undergo detox and replenishment a thousand-fold, then volunteering overseas is your thing. Not all projects are going to tick the boxes – and of course much onus is on the mentality of the volunteer themselves and their willingness to be tried and tested – but when done right, when done in partnership and with longevity in mind, I truly believe that volunteering abroad has the potential to usher in a new, truly global form of citizenship whose repercussions could see the realities we so often choose to push to the back of our minds, label as ‘someone else’s responsibility’, or allow to cripple us under their immensity, be slowly but surely changed until the time when the world is spinning on a different type of axis – one of true equality, where the playing fields are level and people of all nations have every opportunity to succeed.

International volunteering is complicated – far more than the majority of people care to admit or are even aware of – and although, as a sector, we seem to have manoeuvred ourselves into a decidedly prickly corner, messing with people’s lives and livelihoods in the name of a current ‘Western trend,’ I still believe that out of the mire could come something beautiful.
Read more