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Tennis and WASH can improve health and schooling

Copyrights: Eleanor Orao, staff

Tennis and WASH can improve health and schooling

73% of preventable illnesses in the Kibera slums are caused by poor hygiene practice. This article provides insight into the results of our first year running this project (April to March 2017), in using tennis to promote WASH amongst 672 children.

Kibera, Africa’s largest and poorest slum, is characterised by drug and alcohol abuse, violence and crime. Poverty is acute, where 66% of girls regularly trade sex for food, and glue sniffing is common practice. A study by Oxfam deduced that 37% of children in Kibera were excluded from the education system, only 30% of the remaining children received free formal primary school education, and the rest only had access to a limited education at community centres.

A lack of clean water and poor sanitation and hygiene practices lead to dysentery and diarrhoea, particularly from pit latrines, which are poorly maintained. The ratio of people to latrines is high at 500:1. 73% of preventable illnesses in the Kibera slums are caused by poor hygiene practice. People without access to improved sanitation are 1.6 times more likely to experience diarrhoea. Our baseline studies (2016) on 672 children aged between 4 and 12 years old, showed that 48.4% kids attend school irregularly due to illness resulting from unclean water, poor sanitation and hygiene.

Our goal at non-profit Sadili Oval Sports Academy and partner International Inspiration is to use tennis to promote WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) activities amongst 2,100 children of 4 to 12 years old in Kibera, to improve health, school attendance and performance within three years.

Each child is provided with one to three hours per week of tennis coaching where life skills are embedded into sessions such as: confidence building, communication, health and relationships. Primary school children are invited to receive further training in leadership, where they can assume additional responsibilities such as caring for and mentoring other children, serving as positive role models for the children to emulate and assisting with the delivery of tennis coaching sessions. Children will also attend homework clubs (minimum of one hour per week) so they have a dedicated environment to receive support from their peers and community leaders.

Sadili mentors embed life skills across the sessions where each week we focus on a particular theme including: how to wash hands, use of the toilet, bathing, brushing teeth and hair, preparing for school, unsafe habits and survival skills. We run each week a girl-catered tennis and empowerment session, in coordination with our Girl Power Clubs programme, in order to teach girls sexual and reproductive health and survival tools and encourage them to openly discuss and come up with solutions for problems that they face in their community. We ensure that we can provide a nourishing snack to all to improve participation and engagement of children.

  • You can find more information about the project impact and beneficiaries here

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team.]

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Monday, April 10, 2017 - 20:48