Sports play a part in many of our lives. In school we play games at recess and most of us join a team and compete at some point. We may or may not realize what a positive impact sport can have on our personal and social skills. Sporting activities are something we all probably take for granted. Children in developing countries don't always have access to the knowledge and equipment that we do.
Three-time Olympian Freestyle skier Tracy Evans visited Malawi on a volunteer trip in 2008 and was deeply touched by the children's enthusiasm and eagerness to learn new sports. She has since set up her own foundation, Kids Play International, which aims to use sports as the vehicle to teach life skill lessons to orphaned and disadvantaged children in Rwanda and Malawi. Her program offers unique trips that combine volunteerism and tourism into one adventure that has lasting impact.
Evans believes that kids who play sports on any level don't just benefit physically. Research shows they also do better in school, develop personal discipline and learn how to get along with others.
"It was so amazing to introduce these kids to sports that they have never seen or heard of; it places both boys and girls on an equal playing field where there are no pre existing boundaries to learn, something I found very inspiring," she said.
The benefits for the volunteers are numerous. People of any age can experience the culture, countryside and wildlife of each country and also make a difference in the lives of these children. Volunteers will travel with donated sports equipment and introduce the children to new sports, teach life skill lessons and establish a sports room at a pre-determined orphanage or school. The foundation can even provide a tool to assist volunteers in raising money for the trip.
Kids Play is also seeking sponsors, private donations and NGO's to partner with to help develop an after-school sports education program in Gatagara, Rwanda. Please contact Evans for more information if you would like to get involved as either a volunteer or a partner at info AT kidsplayintl DOT org.