Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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Last time you were here, you were looking to help vulnerable children and families. Your support can save and change lives.

On December 16th 2021 Typhoon Rai made landfall at the city of Surigao, in the north eastern tip of Mindanao in the Philippines. The typhoon brought 195km per hour winds, torrential rainfall and caused widespread flooding and devastation.

Sadly, 402 people lost their lives, 1,147 people were injured and 78 people are still missing. Once again, children and families are finding themselves facing crisis.

Many children across the island nation were looking forward to a normal Christmas, with COVID-19 cases subsiding and travel restrictions being lifted. But instead of spending the holidays with loved ones, many children and their families were forced to flee their homes due to flooding and are still living in evacuation centres.

Mary Ann and her family are just one family left homeless by Typhoon Rai. “My husband, three kids and I had already evacuated and went came here to the school even before Typhoon Rai came. After the storm passed, I went to check our house, but it was no longer there. Until now I don’t know where we will go,” said Mary Ann.

Significant portions of the region still do not have access to power or clean water. To date, there are still just over 50,000 families living in evacuation centres with little certainty about when they will be able to return home and begin to rebuild their lives.

ChildFund Philippines is helping to distribute emergency food rations, setting up emergency housing for families and access to clean water and power. They are also identifying how best to support children who experienced trauma because of Typhoon Rai – particularly for those still living in evacuation centres.

Working with local partners and authorities in ten communities struck, ChildFund is committed to ensuring that children have access to counselling services, education, and child-friendly spaces while they are living in evacuation centres. ChildFund Australia has contributed AUD$75,000, of a total amount of AUD$300,000, directly to the emergency response efforts.

These spaces give the children the opportunity to play and learn to help build their resilience and well-being in a safe environment. The child-friendly spaces run psychological first aid sessions to help children process their experiences and trauma through interactive activities like sharing, drawing, role playing to help them express themselves as they rebuild their lives after the disaster.

Children are resilient, but with climate change causing more frequent and more intense typhoons, it is vital that they are supported during, not just the response, but that they are adequately prepared for events like Typhoon Rai. You can support children around the world facing crisis.

Sport for Development is a powerful and proven way to facilitate change for disadvantaged youth in developing communities who face significant challenges around poverty and inequality.

Programs like ChildFund Pass It Back provide children and young people with important learning opportunities, as well as the chance to take part in organised sport, in many cases for the very first time.

So let’s take this opportunity to reflect on how sport for development programs help vulnerable children and youth grow into empowered, confident and healthy adults.

Sport for Development promotes diversity and inclusion

Sport for development programs promote diversity and inclusion by:

1. Bringing people together from all walks of life. All races, religions, genders and cultures are unified by a common passion: their love of the game.

2. Providing shared experiences, and creating a space where players, coaches, families and communities feel a sense of belonging.

3. Connecting people within and across borders, creating relationships between disparate social groups and building more inclusive communities.

4. Challenging prejudicial attitudes and breaking gender barriers.

5. Uniting players and fans around a common set of values, which drives positive behaviours both on the off the field.

6. Providing opportunities for children and young people to participate in their local, regional, national and international community.

Working as a team helps to break down barriers of exclusion, reduces inequality, and builds stronger communities for young people over time.

Sport for Development creates leaders

Sport for Development programs transform children into future leaders by:

1. Connecting youth and children with local leaders and decision-makers.

2. Empowering children and transforming them into role models for friends and family.

3. Creating new role models for women and girls in the community by facilitating positive shifts in gender norms.

4. Teaching children the value of teamwork, and how to be respected as a leader.

5. Motivating children to set goals, plan for the future, and challenge themselves.

6. Providing the opportunity for children to connect with each other, and develop relationships that can create positive change in the community.

Children develop leadership skills that they can take back to their homes and communities, helping them become positive vehicles of change.

Sport for Development teaches life skills

ChildFund Pass It Back is a program which provides children with coaches from their own communities; role models who teach valuable life skills:

1. Increased confidence in their own abilities.

2. The value of teamwork, and setting goals as a group.

3. How to manage conflict both on an off the field.

4. Improved concentration and focus.

5. The importance of rules, and respect for others.

6. How children can equip themselves with a sense of self-discipline..

7. The value of becoming an effective communicators.

Through sport for development programs, young people from marginalised communities are given life-long, skills and knowledge to take with them into their adult futures.

Sport for Development improves children’s wellbeing

Sport for development programs provide children with regular physical activity, improving their overall health by:

1. Developing healthy bones, muscles and joints.

2. Improving heart and lung function.

3. Improving balance, coordination and posture.

4. Helping prevent chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

5. Providing an emotional outlet, helping to relieve stress and anxiety.

6. Facilitating social interaction in a positive environment, which provides enjoyment.

Children have plenty to gain from participating in sport for development programs, particularly in terms of the benefits to their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Facilitating change with Sport for Development programs

As you can see, young people from all communities have a lot to gain from participating in programs that use Sport for Development to provide important learning opportunities.

By encouraging children to be active participants in their communities, creating new role models, and teaching valuable life skills, sport for development programs can transform young people into leaders of the future.

Want to help more children have the opportunity to learn, play and grow? Consider supporting ChildFund Pass It Back, a sport for development program operating in countries including Laos,  The Philippines, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

It’s your generosity that keeps the program going, and we’d love to expand into more communities and countries, bringing the power sport to even more disadvantaged children across Asia.