Africa-Canada

Right to Play in Vancouver, Canada

24 February 2011 at 03:11 | 576 views

Whether affected by poverty, disability, discrimination or conflict, a child’s life can be transformed through sport. As Canadians, simple gifts like play are often taken for granted, but watching children in Liberia overcome the effects of war has shown Right To Play delegates Keifala Kromah and Helena Massaquoi the true value of play.

They will be in Vancouver on March 1 with Olympian Adam Kreek, for a free event to increase awareness about Right To Play and to share their powerful stories of how sport changes lives. The event is part of Right To Play’s first Canadian Awareness Program, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Kromah joined Right To Play while living as a refugee in Sierra Leone. He completed his Coach training in exile, as the war raged on in Liberia. Finally, in 2004, Kromah would return home with the hope and skill to impact the younger generations.

“Youth in (Liberia) laughed at us, they thought we were joking,” says Kromah. “But as things went on, they saw the changes occurring in the community and started to support us.”

That support was provided by people like Helena Massaquoi. One of Right To Play’s first employees when operations began in Liberia in 2004, Massaquoi was a pillar of support for activities implemented in the capital region. Even after Right To Play began to close Liberian programs in 2009, she continued to support local activities and Coaches like Kromah, who helped establish Restoring Our Children’s Hope (ROCH) to ensure that sport and play programs would endure.

Today, Kromah is the National Director of ROCH and Massaquoi is Project Coordinator for Right To Play Liberia’s CIDA-funded Play To Learn project, launched in 2010.

The use of play to educate and promote cooperation, trust and reconciliation are benefits felt throughout war-torn Liberia. But these benefits do not only apply to communities ravaged by poverty, disease and conflict.
“Sport and play cross all cultural rifts and differences to create a better world,” says world-class rower, Adam Kreek.

Gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Kreek is a devoted Right To Play Athlete Ambassador. He will be in Vancouver to share the impact he witnessed on a 2009 trip to Right To Play’s Peru project – an impact he hopes to strengthen. In December 2011, Kreek will cross the ocean – from Liberia to Venezuela – on oar-power alone, all in support of Right To Play.

The Vancouver event will take place March 1 at the University of British Columbia’s Norm Theatre. Doors open at 6:45pm. Registration is free and available in both French and English at www.righttoplay.ca.

About Right To Play

Right To Play is the leading international humanitarian and development organization using sport and play as tools to effect behavior and social change. Our trained coaches and community leaders implement our programs, which are designed to develop basic life skills, prevent diseases, teach conflict resolution and instill hope in children affected by war, poverty and disease. Right To Play implements programs in 20 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America. A pioneer in its field, Right To Play sets standards for quality sustainable programming, promotes best practices and advances research on the efficacy of sport-based development efforts. Founded in 2000 by Johann Olav Koss, four-time Olympic gold medalist and social entrepreneur, Right To Play fosters the hope and skills that are essential to envisioning and realizing a better future.

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