EVERY CHILD HAS THE RIGHT TO PLAY
Text by Jesse Goossens, a Lemniscatt Book
The Big Red Ball on the cover is the Right to Play symbol.
A ball that is being bounced, thrown, kicked or caught is a universal image of children playing or enjoying a sport. This book shows how the Right to Play organization is bringing the opportunity to play to children around the globe. This book also offers specific suggestions to invite readers to join the efforts to bring volunteers, equipment, coaches and health information to children who do not have the freedom to play.
The motto of Right to Play is: Look after yourself. Look after one another. This international effort was started by Johann Olay Koss, triple world skating champion and winner of four Olympic gold medals. Johann Koss wants to give every child the opportunity to play, to learn a sport, to be free from hunger and disease and most important, to believe in a better future. Right to Play now reaches boys and girls in schools in Rwanda, refugee camps, the slums of cities, hospitals filled with HIV/AIDS victims, and even the camps of child soldiers. In Johann Koss’s own words:
“I founded Right to Play so the world should be a healthier, safer place for children. I think that can happen through sport and play. Why? Take a few hundred boys, put them somewhere where there is nowhere else to go and nothing for them to do. What happens next? They start looking for trouble.
In refugee camps and internally displaced camps all over the world there are eleven million men and boys. They have nothing to strive for, no hope for a better life, and there is nothing for them to do. Then the problems start; violence and sexual abuse rear their ugly head…Give them something to do, such as taking part in sport and in play, some sense of meaning enters their lives.”
One of many similar examples: In Sierra Leone Right to Play in partnership with the international football association, FIFA, started teaching football (soccer) to children who had fled Liberia. These kids are now coaching teams within the camp. Some have returned to Liberia to coach at the national level.
The right to play is the beginning of the right to believe in oneself and a future.