ESPN Team Witness the Power of Sport to Effect Change in Uganda
By Atuhura Tadeo
Country Communications Coordinator
| Johann Koss reads a welcome message from a child|
Johann Olav Koss, President and CEO of Right To Play, recently accompanied a team from sports network ESPN on a visit to Right To Play’s programs in Uganda. The team, including Hollywood directors and producers Frank Marshall and Mike Tollin as well as ESPN Vice President Joan Lynch, visited the Uganda program to document the power sport and play has to transform the lives of children. They will be sharing their snapshot of the program in a documentary on Johann Koss’s life and his work with Right To Play as part of ESPN’s 30th Anniversary celebrations.
While in Uganda, the team visited a number of communities and clinics, including: Kimalachi community, a local women’s initiative implementing sport and play; Lukuli AIDS clinic, a community facility for HIV and AIDS testing and counseling; and Salaam School of the Blind in Mukono where Johann Koss distributed eye glasses donated by Norway’s Synsam Optical Centre to 29 children.
| Johann Koss helps Annet Nakazibwe wear her new eye glasses|
“It’s great and inspiring to see physically the impact sport and play has had on the communities. I could not conceive the idea, when Johann talked to me about using sport and play as a tool for creating healthier and safer communities. I have the confidence to say that this is real after I have witnessed junior Leaders lead games.”
Joan Lynch, Vice President ESPN
In Naguru, it was a historical moment for the Coaches to see the visitors interacting freely with the children and women. Shamila Mudemuki, a retired boxer and master Coach, expressed her happiness and described the field visit as a special moment for the Naguru Coaches, Junior Leaders, children and the community at large. Junior Leaders are children identified and mentored by Coaches to lead younger children in sport and play activities. This is aimed at empowering the children to undertake leadership roles and above all sustaining the implementation of sport and play activities in the communities. Mudemuki said, "This visit is a source of motivation for teachers, Coaches, Junior Leaders and the children in the various schools where we implement our activities," she said. "The level of inspiration for us has increased and this can be testified from the commitment and joy exhibited by the Coaches, Junior Leaders and the children during the games played in the various groups.”
|Johann Koss joins the children in a game.|
Right To Play’s Uganda Country Manager Peter Etabu pointed out that sport and play has completely transformed the thinking and improved on the relationship between the boys and girls in the different communities. “The games are a great tool in restoring peace and tranquility among the boys and girls. They have formed a strong bond among the children of inclusion and co-operation. Children play to learn and learn to play together,” said Peter.
Joy and happiness filled the environment in Mbarara as the children and the guests played games led by the Junior Leaders that raise awareness for HIV and AIDS. It was thrilling to witness how the children could comprehend complex issues related to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Kashojwa Primary School Coach Jennifer Turyahabyoha explained to the visiting team the impact that sport and play has had on the children in relation to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. “Our children in the camp lacked information on HIV and AIDS. The conditions in the camp made it harder for girls to obtain information on how to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. But through games like HIV and AIDS Role Play, the situation has changed,” said Jennifer.
| "The games are a great tool in restoring peace and tranquility among the boys and girls. They have formed a strong bond among the children of inclusion and co-operation. Children play to learn and learn to play together.” |
Peter Etabu, Uganda Country Manager
George Ndashimye, a Coach since Right To Play Uganda’s inception, described the visit as a renewal and confidence-building moment for all the Coaches in Oruchinga and a time to celebrate the impact so far created since 2001. “We have come a long way. We are happy at the fruits of our work through volunteerism. Thank you Johann for being focused, you have set the fire and we shall keep it burning so as to transform our communities through sport and play,” said George.
While in Uganda, the team visited with His Excellency the Vice President, Prof. Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya