Sports, being communal activities, are one of the most effective avenues for uniting people in charitable causes. Here are three organizations devoted to using sports as weapons against poverty.

1. Pedal Against Poverty: Australia-based Pedal Against Poverty organizes cycling events to raise money for poverty-stricken communities around the world. The organization hosts two main events each year – a 24-hour relay in Sydney, Australia, and an eight-hour mountain bike event in Port Macquarie.  Proceeds from these events primarily benefit children in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia, home to the 100 acre Stung Meanchey landfill. The landfill has been closed down but still plagues the impoverished surrounding communities with poor sanitation and health problems. Pedals For Poverty provides children in Phnom Pehn with education, food, and clothing. It also provides maternal and newborn healthcare, as well as care for victims of domestic violence. Pedal Against Poverty is also involved in poverty relief projects in Tanzania and India.

2. Waves For Water: Waves For Water focuses on bringing clean water to developing countries. The organization, which has partnered with the surf company Hurley International, started by providing travelling surfers with water filters to install in impoverished communities as they traveled abroad in search of waves. Now, Waves For Water hopes to engage volunteers outside of the surfing community. It has developed a do-it-yourself Clean Water Courier program that encourages anybody, surfer or not, to purchase portable water filters before travelling abroad. The water filters are compact, easily fit in luggage, and are easily installed. So far, the Clean Water Courier program has provided communities in Haiti, Indonesia, Bali, Pakistan, Samoa, and Chile with clean drinking water.

3. Uncle Skate Charity: Based in Scottsdale, ArizonaUncle Skate donates skateboards and equipment to children in impoverished communities around the world. The organization aims to use skateboarding as a means to provide poor children with a sense of self-worth and confidence that will go beyond skating. Uncle Skate also aims to use skating as a deterrent to drug and alcohol abuse. Among the countries Uncle Skate has donated equipment to are Jordan, Haiti, Cuba, and Thailand.

The reason that these initiatives are successful is because they are community-oriented. Sports have always brought large groups of people together. These organizations capitalize on the communal qualities of sports and channel them into solidarity for a cause much bigger than sports – abolishing poverty.

– Matt Berg

Sources: Pedal Against Poverty, Waves for Water, Uncle Skate
Photo: CAFOD Westminster