by Sabrina Hempel
Did you know: according to the United Nations over 215 million kids around the world have to work? We bet every single one of them would rather be in school, hanging out with their friends and playing. It's just one of the reasons why acknowledging the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) this Wednesday, April 6 is so important.
"Sport encourages personal growth, is a major force in eliminating gender barriers and can build bridges across lines that might otherwise divide," explained Ban Ki Moon, the United Nations Secretary General in a message to the press, in support of the day.
We agree. And we're not alone; IDSDP gives everyone a reason to join in, celebrate and highlight the role of sport in global development, including the United Nations and other global organizations. It's one of the reasons why we've adopted a series of Sustainable Development Goals to help us showcase how our games, activities and sports are an important means towards the fulsomeness of education, peace and health.
As a leader in the Sport for Development and Peace movement we know that play has the power to transform children's lives. Sports, games and activities create a safe arena for children to meet and interact. Something as simple as a game of soccer creates common ground and a sense of equality, leveling the playing field by breaking down social barriers, promoting teamwork and creating acceptance around differences like gender, race and religion. It helps kids put their differences behind them. It enables boys and girls to play together. Most importantly, it provides the opportunity to teach new behaviours.
Because when we teach the kids in our programs conflict-resolution and team-building skills through a game of tag or by making up a skit to act out for their peers, not only are they happier and more engaged because they're having fun, they're also learning and retaining valuable lessons about equality, acceptance and respect.
So it's no wonder April 6 is such an important day. It reminds us of all of the benefits sports and games have to offer. And it reinforces the value our programs are bringing to over one million children around the world.
Want to learn more about how we use play as a teaching tool? Click here.