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.
Wow, my husband and I would love to do something like this!
Hi Jen! We have a trip coming up from June 6-18th to Rwanda and another in October, if you would like me to add you to out newsletter for more trip information please let me know. [email protected] Thanks! Tracy
Nice article, for those who are interested, I recently published an online webinterview with Tracy Evans which is available here: http://www.sportmanagement.cc/2011/04/08/web-interview-with-tracy-evans/
Sports a great way to inspire as well as help children. I was surprised when i learn that a lot of schools dont even offer recess these days. Children get lunch and p.e. but no recess to actually be active.
BEAUTIFUL idea 🙂 since i’m not good at any sports, i can be a cheerleader and help spread the word. glad you shared this guys and cudos to tracy.
Thanks Lorna for helping spread the word! FYI, lots of KPI volunteers are not athletes or even have an athletic background. 🙂 All a volunteer needs is an open mind, flexibility in the day to day schedule and the interest in using “active play” to interact with the kids; playing catch, jump rope, kick ball, etc.
This sounds like a great idea. I think playing sports can be beneficial for a child’s development, and I applaud Tracy for taking the steps to make this a reality for these children. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Randy, I learned a lot on how to get along with others, teamwork, leadership, etc. through my years in sports and hope to be able to do the same for these kids in a country that doesn’t have any kind of after-school” programs available.