Right To Play/International/news and media

Right To Play in Rwanda invites gold medalists to witness the power of play

[NEW YORK, November 9th 2012] --  Four U.S. gold medalists, who are Right To Play Athlete Ambassadors, will visit the global organization’s programs in Rwanda from November 11th -15th to celebrate and inspire children and promote the role that playing sport and playing games has in transforming children’s lives. They will be sharing their experiences on Facebook at www.facebook.com/righttoplay.com, via twitter with #seeRTP and at www.righttoplay.com

Four U.S. gold medalists, who are Right To Play Athlete Ambassadors, will visit the global organization’s programs in Rwanda from November 11th -15th to celebrate and inspire children and promote the role that playing sport and playing games has in transforming children’s lives. They will be sharing their experiences on Facebook at www.facebook.com/righttoplay.com, via twitter with #seeRTP and atwww.righttoplay.com

Right To Play is an international organization that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children around the world facing adversity. The organization has an international team of more than 350 Athlete Ambassadors from 40 countries worldwide. They are role models who celebrate and inspire children in Right To Play programs, and who work to raise awareness about Right To Play and its global impact.

Right To Play began working in Rwanda in 2003, and today runs programs for 55,500 young people in Kigali, Rubavu and Bugasera districts. Right To Play engages these children in weekly play activities that teach about how to resolve conflict and show leadership. Through play, children learn about health issues, such as HIV/AIDS, and the importance of gender equality. Across Rwanda, physical education teachers are incorporating Right To Play’s play-based learning activities in their classroom. Children regularly request enrolment at school’s where Right To Play activities are offered.

The Athlete Ambassadors who will visit Rwanda are female Olympians who have won a total of 13 gold medals for Team USA since 1992. They are swimmer Natalie Coughlin, football (soccer) player Heather O’Reilly, runner Allyson Felix and water polo athlete Heather Petri. The group will travel to Kigali and Rubavu where they will visit programs that showcase the impact that Right To Play is having in education, health awareness and gender equality.

As accomplished female athletes, each of the Ambassadors has a strong personal story of how sport and play has shaped their lives.

Right To Play founder, President and CEO, Johann Olav Koss – a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist himself – will join the women in Rwanda.“It is an exceptional opportunity to have these accomplished and inspiring women travel to our programs,” says Koss. “They are role models who can show children – young girls in particular – what incredible potential each one of us has if we are given the opportunity to develop it. The energy and enthusiasm these women bring to our programs, and to the children, is truly magical.”

Events organized by Right To Play’s offices in Kigali and Rubavu will give the Athlete Ambassadors an opportunity to meet and engage with the children who participate in Right To Play programs, their parents, teachers and the local volunteer Coaches who carry out the programs. It is also an opportunity for Right To Play in Rwanda to showcase its transformative work and accomplishments at home.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to host these remarkable athletes in our country,” said Boris Degan, Country Manager of Right To Play in Rwanda. “We are proud of the work we are doing and see encouraging evidence of our results. Children are learning the truth about HIV and AIDS; how to live with it and prevent it. They are using knowledge they’ve learned in our programs to protect themselves and they’re sharing it with others. Nothing could be more important for the future of our country.”

Other results coming from our programs in Rwanda:

  • Working closely with the Rwandan government, Right To Play is becoming a fundamental element of basic education in Rwanda: its activities have been officially approved by the Ministry of Education for use in primary schools nationwide.
  • In 2012, physical education teachers began to incorporate Right To Play’s method of play-based learning in their classroom activities with the support of Right To Play

 Of Rwandan kids participating in Right To Play activities:

  • Through regular participation in activities that emphasizes HIV/AIDS education and awareness, children are learning the truth about HIV/AIDS — how to live with it, and how to prevent it.
  • 95% knew that most people are infected with HIV through unprotected sex.
  • 77% knew that an HIV-positive person could live a healthy life.
  •  65% reported that they’ve used the knowledge they learned in Right To Play activities with healthy behaviours like abstinence, using condoms and sharing their HIV/AIDS knowledge with others.  

Editor’s Note:

Bios of Athlete Ambassadors mentioned are here.

About Right To Play

Right To Play is a global organization that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity. Through playing sports and games, Right To Play helps children in more than 20 countries to build essential life skills and better futures, while driving lasting social change. Founded in 2000 by four-time Olympic gold medalist and social entrepreneur Johann Olav Koss, Right To Play is headquartered in Toronto, Canada and has national offices in Canada, the Netherlands, Norway Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Our programs are facilitated by 590 international staff and nearly 12,000 volunteer Coaches.

Visit us at www.righttoplay.com          ­

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For More Information:

laura currie ryder
global director, marketing and communications
Right To Play International

P + 1 (416) 498 1922 EXT. 204
M + 1 (416) 317 944
lcurrie@righttoplay.com