Right To Play is a global fundraising organisation which works to introduce educational games and sports to children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Johann Olav Kloss, former Olympic gold medallist, founded the organisation in the year 2000. Today, Right To Play has more than 620 staff worldwide and a volunteer base of local coaches exceeding 14,900. Philanthropist Joey Horn is a supporter of Right To Play, which delivers programmes to 18 different countries in areas affected by famine, war, disease and poverty.
Advocacy through Sport
The foundation of Right To Play lies in the belief that sporting activities, play and games facilitate learning, growth and interaction for children. Children have an innate love of playing and, when structured, this can translate into valuable lessons about aspects of life such as teamwork, acceptance and the breaking down of barriers. The coaches encourage new positive behaviours among the children, creating opportunities for reflection on life experiences and the application of new skills and learning to those lives. Children are further encouraged to view themselves as advocates for their own rights and active participants in community life and their own development.
International Day of Sport for Development and Peace
In 2014, the important role that can be played by games, sports and play was recognised and celebrated through the implementation of an International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. A variety of activities were organised to mark the occasion, ranging from the production of a celebratory video and implementing football tournaments in refugee camps, to training new physical education and health teachers.
Increased School Attendance
Creating inclusive and motivational learning environments through sports and games encourages children to attend school and to stay in school. Figures have shown an increase in school attendance of 15% where the Right To Play programme has been implemented. Once the children are motivated to attend school, play helps to expand thinking and teach children how to concentrate, remember and pay attention. When learning through play, children are actively developing new behaviours, rather than simply rote memorising. Through the Right To Play programmes, children are taught the value of having an education and encouraged to explore what having the right to access a school education means for their futures.
Increased Health Awareness
Educational programmes run by Right To Play teach children about diseases and how they are transmitted, and how to help prevent disease from spreading. Figures show that 82% of children attending a Right To Play programme reported washing their hands after each time they used the latrine, while 91% of children could identify where malaria comes from. Knowledge of these facts helps children to live healthier, safer lives. The specially-trained coaches use play to engage the children with health education, using fun games and activities to teach and enable them to practice what they learn and build their self-confidence.
Conflict resolution is another skill that can be taught through play. Sports and games which involve teamwork and create a level playing field can help children break down barriers of gender, religion or race, encouraging acceptance and respect for peers. A huge 98% of children attending a Right To Play programme reported positive communication skills and cooperation. The coaches are able to demonstrate to the children how to apply to their lives the things they are learning, which they can then encourage others to learn too. Children are empowered to make their own choices as to how they act, think and feel through an understanding of how their lives have shaped their views and attitudes.