According to one study, a whopping 94 percent of young people want to use their skills to benefit a cause. It’s no surprise then that social entrepreneurship and organizations driven with a social purpose are on the rise.
So what do young people interested in a sports-related career do to make their own positive impact on the world?
That’s where the idea of sport for development comes in.
Sports can be used as a tool to reach personal, community, academic and other goals. Sport for development is the idea that athletics, sports and recreation programs can be used to improve lives. The Office on Sport and Development and Peace of the United Nations (UN) writes that sport can be used as a powerful tool to attract, mobilize and inspire.
“Sport has been increasingly recognized and used as a low-cost and high-impact tool in humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts… Sport can no longer be considered a luxury within any society but is rather an important investment in the present and future…”
From developing countries across the world to American inner cities and rural communities, sports can be used to promote:
- Individual development
- Health and disease prevention
- Gender equality
- Social integration and the development of social capital
- Peace building and conflict prevention/resolution
- Post-disaster/trauma relief and normalization of life
- Economic development
- Communication and social mobilization
There are hundreds of organizations using sports, fitness and recreation to better lives right in William Woods’ backyard and all across Missouri.
Here are just a few:
- Life Waters — LifeWaters Adaptive Scuba program in St. Louis is designed to help improve the lives of paralyzed and disabled Veterans by offering SCUBA diving as a part of recreational water therapy.
- Girls on the Run works to empower young girls through running — they have chapters in Kansas City, Central Missouri, Columbia, Springfield, and Louis.
- Special Olympics, Missouri chapter — the world’s largest sports organization — promotes friendship, community, and activity and health in kids with intellectual disabilities.
- The YMCA of Callaway County — Many people know the Y, but may not know that the YMCA organizes various sports activities, such as soccer, T-ball, Karate, gymnastics and more. The Y offers assistance through OUTREACH scholarship programs.
If interested in getting involved, talk to your professors, advisor, or coaches about volunteer opportunities and other organizations.
Photos Courtesy of LifeWaters and Girls on the Run