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Voices of Youth Digital Diaries

22 March 2005: Youth Reporter Jordan from Ireland reports on how sports can help both children and nations

Jordan talks to young people from different parts of the world and to UNICEF officers who work in Sports for Development to understand more about this important issue.

Voices of Youth Digital Diaries are all about young people who want to know more…do more…and say more about the world. Our goal is to amplify their voices by inviting the world’s children to share UNICEF’s electronic podium. These reports are first-person/eyewitness accounts by young people from around the world.

© UNICEF/HQ04-0059/Nesbitt
Boys play football at a UNICEF-assisted centre for internally displaced children, in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.

NEW YORK, 22 March 2005 - This year, 2005 has been named the Year of Sport by the UN, and UNICEF’s work around the world reflects that focus. In countries from Colombia, in South America, to Rwanda, in East Africa, sports is being used as a tool to educate young people, and to offer them a way of settling conflicts and a tool for relieving their own pain as a result of regional wars and other problems.

Fifteeen-year-old Jordan, from Ireland, took a microphone and tape recorder and interviewed several other young people on how sports plays a role in their lives. Sixteen-year olds Misha, Abby and Kirini are all students at the United Nations International School.

“For me, sports has been essential in my life because its empowering,” says Kirini, whose favourite sport is horseback riding. “And as a female, its very important to be empowered in this society.” Kirini also says horseback riding decreases her stress levels.

Misha sees other positive aspects of sports as well. “They teach you the benefit of being determined. You want to get better, you want to get experience, and in the end there’s a great accomplishment.”

Jordan also interviewed some UNICEF staff members in the New York Headquarters, who work on this issue. UNICEF’s Simone Clarke says, “sport is certainly a very effective tool for children’s development both in the developing world and in the developed world. A lot of life skills are certainly learned on the field.”

UNICEF’s Geoffrey Ijumba emphasizes the role of sports in conflict resolution. “We have this program in twelve countries that have been effected by conflict. Getting children in refugee camps to play, and just for the moment to forget the suffering, trauma, and terrible things they have witnessed. Rwanda is a perfect example, where there was a genocide, and children witnessed their friends and family’s being killed. We are using sports across ethnic lines, to drill into their minds that they belong together.”

Abby, at the United Nations International School, has seen this work in her home country, Nigeria. “There are ethnic conflicts between the north and south, and playing on teams with members from the different regions, with a common goal leads to a feeling of connection between them, and they are less likely to have issues.”

Jordan is pleased to see that sports offers more opportunities for change in the world than she ever knew about. And this is an issue most every young person can understand and care about.

This year’s International Children’s Day of Broadcasting, coming up in December, has been dedicated to Sports for Development. This day is an annual global initiative in which UNICEF and partner organizations encourage dozens of broadcasters worldwide to work on content with young people and make sure their voices are heard. Stay tuned for more youth produced material about Sports for Development.

Learn more about what young people are saying: Visit Voices of Youth’s online community. Or find out about UNICEF’s work to promote and protect the rights of adolescents.




22 March 2005:
Youth Reporter Jordan from Ireland reports on the importance of sports in development, both for individuals and for nations.
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