Play PovertyThe Chilean poet Pablo Neruda once said that “a child who does not play is not a child.” Play, as defined by the World Economic Forum, is “freedom for children to engage with and learn from the world that surrounds them.” However, for millions of children in poverty, play is “an elusive luxury.” “Play poverty” is a term describing this scarcity of play among socio-economically disadvantaged children.

With rising research on the benefits of play on child development and performance, “play poverty” has become the focus of several NGOs and well-known organizations, such as FIFA.

The Power of Play

The World Economic Forum states that “Play is the rocket fuel of child development.” Psychologists believe play is crucial for brain development. Specifically, play “promotes connections between nerve cells, helps develop motor skills and coordination” and trains the brain to make sound decisions at an early age. As a result, the brain develops the “cognitive, emotional and social intelligence” that adults rely on.

In poor regions, many children are forced to forego their education to work or care for their families. In the regions most prone to low enrolment rates and the harsh realities of life, “time for play is often displaced by the chores and responsibilities that are so familiar to children growing up in poverty.” According to Right to Play, an NGO aiming to empower vulnerable children, play helps children stay in school while protecting them from exploitation and benefiting their future. Additionally, play helps children escape from “their harsh reality” of poverty, war and natural disasters.

Current Efforts by FIFA and Adidas

Adidas, FIFA and the FIFA Fan Movement, an organization connecting FIFA and the people, have collaborated to give ball donations to NGOs fighting for social good. The pandemic has left thousands of footballs unused; with sustainability in mind, the FIFA Fan Movement nominated 34 NGOs around the world and nine were selected. FIFA believes that their donation will help support “sport as a tool for building life skills such as teamwork, communication, hard work, discipline and a healthy outlet of physical activity.”

Case Study: Tanzania

In Tanzania, despite no school fees since 2015 in lower through secondary school, roughly 2 million children under the age of 13 are currently not enrolled or attending school.  About 70% of Tanzanian children between the ages of 14 and 17 are not enrolled in secondary education. Unsurprisingly, UNICEF found that “primary school-aged children from the poorest families are three times less likely to attend school than those from the wealthiest households.” The children are not out-of-school due to the financial burdens of education it is partially free. The reason is that Tanzanian parents often rely on their children to be a further source of income or guardianship. Unfortunately, this often forces children into vulnerable positions such as working under hazardous conditions or early child marriage. In fact, two out of five Tanzanian girls get married before the age of 18.

Jambo for Development

Luckily, Jambo for Development, a Tanzanian-based NGO, is one of the nine organizations to receive 108 footballs from FIFA. The NGO’s mission, which has a long history of support from FIFA, is to enable all children to have an equal opportunity at achieving their dreams. With FIFA’s help, Jambo for Development has a good chance at making some Tanzanian children’s dreams come true, as they will be equipped “with the skills and tools to address and embrace the new realities of tomorrow.”

– Lena Maassen 
Photo: Flickr

We all know working out is good for us. It makes you feel good and improves your health. But what if your workout could fight poverty as well? Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Here are 5 ways that you can help end poverty with your workout:

1) Charity Miles: This free app will track how many miles you run, walk, or bike and sponsor your efforts. For every mile you run or walk, they’ll donate a quarter, while a mile biking translates to a dime for charity. When you’re done with your workout, you share your success on a social media site and they send the money to a charity of your choice!

2) Run For Charity: This website will help you find a charity to run for. Charity runners use their training and hard work to raise money for the charity of their choice. Charities are extremely supportive of their runners, providing help with registration, training, and fundraising. Some will even have race day events for their runners. This is a great opportunity for runners to put all those miles to good use.

3) Plus 3 Network: This network was created by four guys who wanted to encourage people to get out and ride their bikes more. It has since grown to include all forms of exercise, which you can log on their website. You earn money for charity by logging your activity, so you feel even better about that yoga class or walk around the block.

4) Eco-Friendly Workout Gear: You show yourself some love by working out and staying healthy. Show the earth some love, too, by purchasing eco-friendly workout gear. Be sure to buy your shoes, socks, and clothing from eco-friendly companies like Montrail (shoes), Teko (socks), or Patagonia (clothing). Using reusable water bottles will keep plastic ones out of landfills and save you money. You can also look for secondhand fitness supplies, like weights, treadmills, and exercise balls to cut down on waste.

5) Donate Your Old Workout Gear: That fitness equipment that you just don’t use anymore could help someone else lead a healthier life. You can donate old sports balls, shoes, cleats, and the like to Sports Gifts, which redistributes old workout gear to underprivileged kids. Old tennis balls can go to Rebounces, which restores them and resells them as practice balls, saving space in our landfills. Your old orthotics that helped you get back to the activities you love can be given to Rebounces’ philanthropic organization, Joni and Friends. The nonprofit will give the equipment to disabled or injured people in the developing world.

– Katie Fullerton

Sources: Charity Miles, Plus 3 Network, SparkPeople, Oprah
Photo: DX Foundation