There are a number of stories out there of exceptionally talented and strong-willed kids who dreamed of greatness and were able to achieve it because of the support of others. I’m talking about the untold story of the Maui Sugar Ditch Kids, Disney’s most recent film Queen of Katwe, and even Friday Night Lights. Behind any great athlete, there is a network of people who make that athlete’s dream possible. They provide training, guidance, emotional support, and more.
This year, the Olympic International Committee created a grant program for organizations that run effective “sport for all” programs in their communities, i.e. programs that inspire people to live active, healthy lifestyles. Each of the four winners of the grant are to receive a whopping 20,000 USD to put to their respective projects. It’s an amazing way of helping out those who want to excel by giving them the resources they need to do so.
Below’s a look at this year’s winners of the Sport and Active Society grants:
BoxGirls International uses boxing as a catalyst for social change. Through well-designed boxing programs that stress technique and leadership, BoxGirls aims to change the way that women view themselves and are viewed by others in society. This is reflected in a stronger sense of self and a more empowered response to protecting themselves from gender-based violence.
Dreamfields Projects aims to improve the lives of children across South Africa, by bringing soccer into townships and rural schools across the country. Dreamfields primarily achieves this goal by these three initiatives: Dreambags (which provides schools with all of the equipment they need to play soccer), DreamEvents (which provides tournaments for children by bringing schools, sponsors and communities together), and DreamFields (which helps to create renewed spaces for playing soccer and bringing communities together).
Salaam Bombay Foundation aims to improve the lives of children in the slums of Mumbai by helping them make the right choices for “their health, education, and livelihood”, while staying in school. Although the organization offers programs in a number of areas including drug-prevention and after-school photography workshops, one of the primary ways that Salaam Bombay Foundation strives to achieve their mission is through sport.
Shooting Touch is a globe-spanning organization that uses basketball to educate and empower at-risk-youth and their communities. In Boston, their efforts are focused on helping inner city and suburban youth (both males and females) use basketball for “health education, leadership, and social development.” In Rwanda, Shooting Touch can be seen educating youth about health and bringing communities together. Altogether, the organization has served over 11,000 youth world-wide.
As entertaining as watching Michael Phelps break world records can be, it’s inspiring to know that the Olympics stand for so much more than competition. That they really do stand for making the world a healthier, more active, and ultimately more harmonious place.