• #BeAChampionForChildren: Universal Children’s Day

    We at Coaches Across Continents applaud all our partners who joined with us, and with UNICEF, to champion the rights of children on the recent Universal Children’s Day (November 20th).

    Initially Coaches Across Continents invited partners to begin creating a Child Protection Policy unique to their community. Over 100 partner groups responded.

    Together we raised global awareness of the need to safeguard children in 105+ countries on 6 continents.

    Partners were asked to identify the form of child abuse they most wanted to change within their community. Physical, emotional, sexual and verbal abuse were identified and next steps considered.

    Key issues emerged. These recognised that abuse is often a taken for granted cultural habit, as well as being an abuse of power. Respect for young people was thought to be crucial, while bullying should be avoided.

    Partners who had created a Child Protection Policy asked CAC for curriculum games and online education. CAC distributed a curriculum packet of five games which addressed the four different forms of child abuse, as well as showing how to prevent child abuse in the future.

    Stories flooded in showing the many CAC games that had been played around the world on Universal Children’s Day.

    Additionally CAC invited partners to download and use UNICEF’s International Safeguards for Children in Sport, where CAC was a pioneering member.

    Together we all lived up to the hashtag #BeAChampionForChildren, knowing that by protecting children we were advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    #WhatsYourLegacy?

  • Child Rights, Child Protection – #ItStartsWithYou.

    November 2nd, 2018. Coaches Across Continents ASK for Choice Advisory Team Member, Dr. Judith Gates writes on her work with CAC and UNICEF for Universal Children’s Day on November 20th, as well as our ongoing partnership for Child Rights and Child Protection around the world.

    Coaches Across Continents works around the globe. According to our latest count, we have worked in 55 countries on 6 continents. Our unique footprint of deep involvement in local communities gives us an unprecedented perception of the level and scope of the abuse of child rights around the world. This leads to our clear, unvarnished recognition of the urgent need internationally for child protection policies and actions.

    Within communities and within sporting environments we have heard and seen so many examples of child abuse. We have learned that wider traditional community norms invariably influence behaviour on the sports field.

    At national federation level a gymnastics doctor was convicted of sexual assault of more than 100 girls. English professional football has been inundated by a wave of allegations of sex abuse.

    However the victims are now beginning to speak out. A highly respected Coaches Across Continents team member was a victim of sexual abuse by her coach during her teens. And the abuse is not just happening at the international, national, professional or ‘elite athlete’ level in sport. It is happening in local communities around the world, large and small; local communities where sport is played for fun, local communities who use sport for social development.

    A girl child in rural Tanzania is sold for sex. The payment is a bag of rice. A coach touches a team member inappropriately. He relies on his power to buy silence. Boy children attend a madrassa and are coerced into taking part in oral sex. And, horrific though sexual abuse is, physical, verbal and emotional abuse also leave a lasting negative impression on the hearts and minds of young people globally. We at CAC see it all.

    That is why, several years ago, CAC responded promptly to an invitation from UNICEF to work with them to create a set of International Safeguards for Children in Sport. We ask you to download this for help in creating your own child protection policy. https://www.sportanddev.org/en/learn-more/child-protection-and-safeguarding-sport

    CAC continues to contribute in many ways to the development of child protection policies, locally as well as internationally, on the sports field and within the community. We support our partners to create community based as well as sports based policies to protect their children. We all share the collective responsibility to protect children from abuse. You as well as us.

    Therefore we ask all our partners to join with us to safeguard children. 

    Together we can make a difference.

    Remember #ItStartsWithYou.

     

  • Global Leaders in Child Protection

    April 3, 2018. Children’s Rights are of paramount importance to Coaches Across Continents.   One of the pillars of our organization is the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. But it is one thing to say that the protection of children is important, and another entirely to actively create policies and implement practices which change communities and cultures in the 50+ countries where we operate. But this is exactly what we are doing. Over 10,400 coaches have signed Child Protection policies because of their participation in CAC On-Field programming.  Our partnership work around the world includes addressing and changing some of the most difficult issues pertaining to child rights and protection, including trafficked children, child soldiers, FGM, restrictive and harmful cultural and religious practice, legal corporal punishment in schools, street children, and more.

    Today we are proud to announce the publication of a new document to further progress Child Protection policies and thinking, entitled “Peace and Child Rights.”  This document continues to frame our Child Protection policy creation and community development on two main fronts:

    1. The understanding that Child Protection is not just as an elimination of abuse, but also the creation of what children should experience in a healthy and happy childhood, namely physically and emotionally safe spaces where they are encouraged in their successes and allowed to constructively learn from their failures as they engage in our SDL environment.
    2. That the relationship between a teacher/coach needs to exist and be a healthy one that allows for a mentorship of children from adolescence into adulthood.

    Coaches Across Continents is already implementing these parameters with all our partner programs globally. Before working with CAC, only 18% of local coaches had received child protection training.  Now over 10,400 coaches at 100% of our programs have gone through Child Protection Training.

    This new publication initiative goes hand in hand with our ongoing work with UNICEF, where we are on three working groups including:

    1. Advocacy and communications on policy and practice;
    2. Quality assurance and access to training and support; and
    3. Research, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning and improvement of resources.

    These active workgroups continue to drive global policy in Child Rights and Protection policies, and came about from our work together as a Pioneering Member of UNICEF’s International Safeguards for Children in Sport.

    CAC also uses our curriculum to educate children and coaches about the rights guaranteed by the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.  Since it’s inception in 2015, our Child Rights curriculum has been used at 88% of our On-Field Programs.

    Coaches Across Continents will continue to be the global leader in Child Protection.  We are already working on ways to continue to eliminate all violence against children (sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse) and to create partnerships and communities which focus on Child Rights advocacy, creating safe spaces, and building healthy mentoring relationships.

    #WhatsYourLegacy?

  • Epiphanies in Kigoma

    December 11th 2016. CAC Global Citizen writes about our work in Kigoma, Tanzania with Kigoma Municipal Council on their Connor Sport Court.

    Kigoma was the site of the first-ever Coaches Across Continents program, in 2008. It is a town of about 200,000 on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on the western border of Tanzania. Fortunately, the airport is serviced four times each week by flights from Dar Es Salaam – which saved us a draining two-day bus or train trip last weekend. Its lush green hillsides and the proximity of the second-deepest lake in the world provided a pleasant change of scenery from the dusty plains that have defined so much of our time in this country.

    Though it could certainly have just been the small sample of the community that we had, the relative isolation of Kigoma seems to have shaped the social climate there. When we arrived on Monday, Emily and I were immediately swarmed by throngs of schoolchildren who cheerfully called to us Mzungu! Mzungu!;(which means “white person”) and stared at us in awe and with innocent curiosity – something we had not experienced to such an extreme anywhere else in Tanzania. After the participants asked the children to clear from the Sport Court so we could begin the program, a few remained, and one of our participants (a schoolteacher), frustrated at these few who had not obeyed previous commands, ran towards them and swung a full kick at them so that they scrambled out of his way and off the court – just as he had intended. Out of the 44 participants in the week’s program, just five were women – a more steeply imbalanced ratio than anywhere else on this trip. Early in our session that morning, many participants named witchcraft as one of the things they most wanted to change about Kigoma, a phenomenon not even mentioned once in our other programs the past few weeks. Observing all of this on Monday, I sensed that Kigoma was still fixed to traditions that some other Tanzanian communities have begun to reconsider and reshape, and the idea of our CAC program raising questions about these practices already seemed daunting.  In many ways, our work in Kigoma appeared to be an uphill battle.

    Fortunately, throughout the week there were encouraging signs that some of this could change. In several separate conversations, participants discussed the need to change some harmful traditions (like the normalization of physically abusing children) and how they, holding leadership roles as teachers and coaches, could play a role in driving such changes in their communities. Our program and the games we selected opened the floor for these types of debates, and it felt productive to hear so many people discuss what traditions to change and how to do it, large group conversations which don’t seem to very commonly arise on their own.

    There was one moment though that offered the strongest confirmation of the effect of our curriculum. Midweek, we closed our session by playing India for Choice, a tag game that first creates scenarios of child abuse (regular tag), and then shows how individuals in the community can protect children from abuse (blocking taggers by using the ball). Finally, we designate zones on the field were players can’t be tagged, and the group labels zones as real world places where children ought to be safe from abuse (school and home, etc.). As the game ended and players migrated off the court after our ensuing conversation about child abuse, one teacher stood behind, drop-jawed. With awestruck eyes, he approached us coaches: “That…that…was awesome. Wow.” He was blown away at seeing how a simple field game can be a powerful metaphor for a social topic. Emily and I lit up; what a strong sign that what we’ve invested so much time and energy in has begun to catch on! Witnessing his epiphany was encouraging and inspiring because I know that at least one teacher came away from our program with new ideas about how to discuss touchy topics like abuse with his children and his peers. Even if he had been the only one of our participants to see the potential of using sports for social change (and I’m sure he wasn’t), no step is too small toward allowing a community to reconsider the impacts of some long-held traditions.

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  • A Range of Ranges

    September 16th 2016. CAC Board Member Judith Gates writes about our first ever program in Georgia with the Lagodekhi Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport.

    Home of the Lagodekhi Nature Reserve, close to the Azerbaijan border, Lagodekhi is a small town in Georgia nestled among scenic mountains and valleys. It was here that Coaches Across Continents had the privilege of working with a partner group comprised  of a very disparate group of coaches. Ranging in age from the mid seventies to the mid teens, ranging in sports coached from Tai Kwando to chess, including basketball, football and wrestling, the group brought together a range of experiences and expertise as wide and varied as CAC has ever encountered.

    What a great opportunity to demonstrate that a curriculum based on Self-Directed Learning is relevant irrespective of the sport being coached. What a useful opportunity to explore the generic role of coaches to use sport for social impact rather than focusing exclusively upon creating elite athletes.

    This was a thoughtful and challenging group. Having traditionally used their obvious deep knowledge of their sport of choice to nurture the elite, the participants readily turned their attention to alternative perspectives. ‘Why do coaches coach?’ was replaced by the even more encompassing question, ‘Why do young people play sport?” Words like ‘fun’ and ‘social’ were given greater emphasis than ‘winning’, ‘tactical’ and ‘strategic’.

    As the days progressed it was satisfying to see a shift in thinking and practice from a skills based approach to one which incorporated creativity and the opportunity for problem solving. By the final session the group readily signed their names to the CAC’s Child Protection policy, which both protects and develops a child’s sense of self worth. And along the way together we became familiar with a number of CAC games, shared traditional Georgian games and, most importantly, created new games to develop Self-Directed Learning and problem solving skills.

    Coaches may focus on differing sports, but we learned that every coach can also focus upon developing the individual and thus enhancing the community.

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