• Breaking the Shackles

    By Durray Sadaf

    As a Junior Leader, Shaba leads Right To Play games at school—a drastic change from when she’d disrupt them.

    The grade-six student lives with mental and physical disabilities that her parents did not fully comprehend or accept. Often beaten or scolded at home and teased by her siblings, Shaba grew angry and hostile—feelings that found their way to the school grounds.

    Teachers at her primary school in Pakistan could not control Shaba’s wild behaviour. She bullied others and constantly snatched the ball away during class activities. Classmates avoided her and she detached herself from them.

    Understanding her difficult home situation, volunteer Coach Shugufta did not give up on her. She encouraged Shaba to take part in the games, and one day made the bold move of making her a Right To Play Junior Leader.

    “When I came to this school as a Coach, the Head Mistress was a bit uncertain about the effectiveness of sport and play activities,” Shugufta said. “But she has seen remarkable changes taking place in children’s behaviours, especially Shaba.”

    Initially hesitant, Shaba slowly began accepting her duties. With support from staff and her classmates, she’s grown confident in her role and feels empowered to make change in her school.

    She’s taken a keen interest in using play-based activities to improve health and hygiene, inspiring fellow students to keep their school clean. She’s gained respect and has become a friendly, cheerful person.

    Reflecting on the Shaba’s transformation, a delighted Shagufta says, “Play truly makes a difference in a child’s life.”

    *Shaba’s name has been changed to protect her identity.