Sports – a tool in making Gen Z sensitive towards the environment
ASA is a Sport for Development initiative of the Rural Development Trust (RDT) in Andhra Pradesh, India. Since 2000, the program has been using sports as a tool for the holistic development of children and youth in rural communities of Anantapur by creating equal opportunities for the children to access and exercise their Right to Play, educating them on life skills, values, IT education, and raising awareness on social and health issues, along with empowering rural youth through skill development.
On the eve of IDSDP, the activities were planned as per the United Nations global theme for IDSDP 2023, “Scoring for People and the Planet”. The day’s activities focused on the importance of sports in individual and community development and sports’ contribution to the environment.
Over 2,000 children have participated in various activities, such as an art challenge and essay writing, focused on Sports and the Environment in grassroots programs around the Anantapur district. Also, the children and staff conducted a Plog run to create awareness of sports and in maintaining clean surroundings by picking up the garbage while jogging in the local community.
Ninety-five children in the residential program participated in public speaking on topics focused on sports and its contribution to individual and community development. The children got the opportunity to express their opinions and real-life examples with other children about how sports impacted them positively and aided in their development.
Also, debate on topics like the positive/negative impact of sports on child development and the contribution of sports to gender equality and the environment resulted in the children critically thinking about sports and exchanging ideas and views on the given topics, which many believed that sports could be an essential tool that will enable us to meet many of our sustainable development goals.
Sports has the power to transcend many such challenges in the community and bring people together to work towards these common goals. Also, the art challenge on sports and the environment allowed the children to express how sports and the environment can go hand in hand.
Amidst the current global challenges, protecting the environment is becoming a focus area, with each passing day. ASA equally believes that all the children, staff and other stakeholders in the programme need to be aware and take collective action within their capacities to protect the earth. In this regard, ASA, as part of our organisation’s initiative “Mana Bhoomi (Our Earth)”, aimed to create environmental awareness and responsibility among the people by implementing innovative and sustainable projects that benefit the earth also, gradually changing the people’s choices and lifestyle to lead a life in harmony with the environment.
Roseline, working as a child and youth development trainer with Anantapur Sports Academy overseeing Mana Bhoomi activities for the children, said: “The Mana Bhoomi program plays a vital role in making the children understand the importance of protecting the environment through various activities and educating them on the role they can play as individuals to protect earth, which is our home. I believe it is very important for them to understand and develop a lifestyle that is environmentally friendly, as they are the future of communities.”
During the past year, as part of Mana Bhoomi, the children in the residential and non-residential program have taken part in the activities such as awareness workshops on waste segregation, reducing the use of plastics on campus, as well as collecting dry waste on campus every week.
Further, the children were encouraged to set up a kitchen garden on campus to facilitate learning about our consumption. These activities aim to build the habits and lifestyles among the children to be more sensitive towards the environment and enable them to become future citizens and leaders in creating a safe environment.
IDSDP is gaining much-needed traction across the globe in celebrating the power of sports and, importantly, in advocating for overcoming global challenges through sports contributions. On this positive note, we should ensure these annual celebrations add much-needed impetus to designing programs to inform Gen Z and contribute to responsible choices to live our lives in harmony with the environment.
About the author
Vamshi Origanti is the academy development manager at Anantapur Sports Academy.