• #PlayItForward in Thailand

    May 1, 2015.  Click here for Part 1 or Part 2.  Friday is Labor Day, a national holiday in Thailand.  And Coaches Across Continents has just completed our second week working with Chevrolet FC and World Vision in Bangkok.  The dozens of participants who attended this week did so from throughout Thailand, meaning that this campaign is having a national impact beyond the refurbished field at Bang Bua school in Bangkok.  Many of the participants work directly with World Vision and will be sharing their learning with other members of their local offices.  Overall, our two weeks of training will impact over 20,000 children.

    Thailand has been a fantastic host for our program.  The director of the Bang Bua School, Miss Aonrumpa Phodaeng, gleefully calls her campus a “happy place.”  The children, staff, and Miss Phodaeng herself radiate joy while you are with them.  However outside of campus there are many serious issues in Thailand.  Trafficking and Health & Wellness issues were highlighted by the local coaches as two areas they would like to address.  There are many types of trafficking, including sexual, conscripting children to become beggars, forced child labor, and even organ trafficking in some instances.  Our curriculum for this week therefore focused on educating about how to use sport for social impact, as well as our Child Rights module.  The coaches highlighted the need to properly educate children about these issues, and were great at being able to extrapolate the messages from our games into social impact teachable moments.

    “I never knew that football can be used to solve problems.  I think I can make a new curriculum to teach children in my community about trafficking, sexual health, and more.  I learned how to use football to teach messages and to adapt and teach children. Thank you to Coaches Across Continents.”

    – Mr. Phongphan Choemue, World Vision, Maesalong Program
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    Finding our voice and learning skills… “Ronaldo One!”

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    GOAL! And getting to watch the GK pick the ball out of the back of the net.

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    Each of these coaches will train their colleagues who will impact thousands of children in Thailand.

  • Fight for Your Rights

    December 23, 2014. Volunteer Alison Pleiman details her final week with CAC in Nepal after four weeks with us On-Field in India.

    Namaste from Nepal, where CAC and Childreach Nepal combine forces. Upon meeting our partners in Kathmandu, we embarked on a journey out of the city and into the mountains for a week of training up in the clouds. Together we bounced 5 hours up rocky, winding roads through quiet village life and slowly transitioned into a calmer reality. Cutting around cliffs and sliding along streams, we passed farmers with their crops, cows, goats, chickens, and smiling children. Mesmerized by the nature all around us, it seems every turn brought a new breathtaking view. Gradually rising to 2800m in the Langtang Valley region, we arrived at our destination: Yangrima Boarding School in Sindhupalchok. This school was started in 1986, bombed in 2006, and rebuilt/reopened in 2009. This establishment has huge potential to impact the community, with many teachers and students traveling hours each day to attend.

    It quickly became clear that we were a great match with Childreach. Their current project ‘My School, My Voice’ is working to create a Child Parliament that gives young leaders in schools the chance to come together and speak out, seeking solutions for the main challenges they face in their community; Childreach aspires to cultivate a population of child leaders by increasing education and spreading awareness for child rights. Many of their objectives fit nicely into CAC’s self-directed learning model, so we were excited to work together this week and add an extra level of help through futbol.

    The main social issues identified at the onset of training helped us zero in on their top priorities. When the participants were propositioned to vote privately for what they felt was the biggest issue in their community, child labor was the resounding response, closely followed by corporal punishment. (Gender discrimination trailed just behind, as did child marriage and child trafficking.) Given this feedback, our curriculum this week would be devoted to child rights, in addition to our usual mix of games covering life skills, conflict resolution, problem solving, and health.

    Specifically targeting child labor and corporal punishment, this focus enabled us to have strong discussion throughout the week about types of abuse and their negative effects. For example, with our Right to Fair Punishment game, the winning team gets to choose the punishment for the losing teams– so after observing punishments become harder and harder, more physically demanding, we were able to talk about ‘when is it ok to be punished?’ Some responses were ‘when you make a mistake.’ Others were ‘repeat mistake.’ One participant tried to explain that beating is ok if kids are lazy and need a push. This opened the floor up for some negotiation. Does beating have to be the only way to get the point across? Fortunately someone suggested maybe by doing work around the school or extra activities, the child can learn the same lesson without the abuse. ‘One problem, many solutions’ is a key CAC phrase that everyone was shouting out by the end of the week. Also, they were able to experience how CAC uses dancing as a fun form of punishment in our games, as long as it’s not humiliating the child, and this new idea was very appealing to several members of the group. Mainly, these discussions allowed us to closely examine how some punishments can harm a child mentally and emotionally as well as physically.

    Similarly, our Right to Play game opened up the floor to talk about why kids should have this right. When asked why, the group had difficulty answering beyond ‘physical strength,’ so again we were able to address the importance of mental and emotional development, and why boys AND girls need and deserve the right to play.

    These are just 2 games among the many that were successful in widening perspective and harnessing the encouragement to ‘fight for your rights’. We covered a lot of ground this week with the help of our dedicated partners from Childreach. They were engaged every step of the way, showing their passion not just for the program but also for life. They were eager to share bits of their culture with us, and it was such a joy to experience the great stories, meals, and music with our new friends. Nepal is truly a special place with people as beautiful as its countryside, and I can’t wait for the chance to come back.

    It’s been an incredible ride with CAC– working together across India and Nepal in pursuit of social change. This opportunity has been a privilege that’s brought so many amazing people and so much value into my life, all in just a matter of weeks. Thank you CAC for this life-altering experience.

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