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Supporting children around the world through sport

Copyrights: UNICEF

Supporting children around the world through sport

To mark the International Day for Sport and Development and Peace, Bond has asked a few international NGOs why they use sport in their development work. How does it add value to what they do? This article is from UNICEF UK.

UNICEF is the world’s largest charity for children – so why do we care about sport? What has sport got to do with health and education, protection and emergencies? What does sport have to do with children?

Well in our view – everything! Let’s start with children – there are three spheres where you find most children around the world – in their families, in school – and in sport.

If we want to make a difference for children’s lives, we need to meet them where they are – and sport is a really important space.

Next let’s consider those development outcomes, the areas that are the rights for every child – UNICEF believes that sport is a powerful tool that can help children realise their rights and live, learn and play in a safe supportive environment.

So what does UNICEF actually do? We focus our work in three main areas: children’s rights in sport, children’s rights around sport, and achieving children’s rights through sport (or sport for development).

In sport, we work with organisations around the world to understand what makes sport a safe space for children where their rights are protected – and then we work with the organisations that can make that happen – with governments, sports organisations and S4D NGOs - to introduce a new sporting culture that puts children’s welfare ahead of everything else.

Around sport, we know that Mega Sporting Events can have a big impact on children’s lives, both positive and negative – from those children living in the communities where these events take place, to those affected by the supply chain of goods and services, to those attending or taking part. We work with the people responsible: international federations, local organising committees and local government, to help them understand where there might be risks to children, and put measures in place to address those risks, or explore how they can involve children in their planning, so that events are developed with children in mind, in a way that maximises opportunities for them.

Finally, through sport, UNICEF supports children around the world, working with local partners and governments to pilot and deliver programmes that make a difference for millions of children – more than 250 such initiatives around the world. From using sport as a space where children in the Pacific can learn how to stay safe during typhoon season, to helping girls stay in school in rural Uganda, to promoting vaccinations in Papua New Guinea, to peace education in Sri Lanka – UNICEF uses sport to make a real difference to children - creating fun and engaging activities, grounded in the right to play, that help children learn and practice new skills, access new services, and take the opportunity to lead activities themselves.

UNICEF believes in the power of sport to make a real difference for children – and our partners in sport help us raise the funds we need and the profile of children, so that we are able to reach even more children around the world through sport!



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Liz Twyford, UNICEF UK


Thursday, April 4, 2019 - 17:09

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