• Alicia Johnson Run’s For CAC

    March 19th 2015. Alicia Johnson, former CAC volunteer, ran the Los Angeles marathon last Sunday on behalf of CAC. Not only was Alicia able to run the 26.2 miles but she also managed to raise over $3000 for Coaches Across Continents in the process. Her efforts will help CAC to run our sport for social impact programs all over the world. We would like to thank her on behalf of the communities and youth we serve. Alicia volunteered with CAC in 2011 in Gansbaii, South Africa and with the Special Olympics in Namibia. She now lives and works in LA for Goldman Sachs.

    Over 92% of the money donated to Coaches Across Continents goes directly to our global programs, creating social change through sport. Do you have an upcoming fundraiser or event? Why not raise money for youth from disadvantaged communities in some of the poorest areas of the world? To find out more about fundraising on Coaches Across Continents’ behalf please email . The money you raise will address major social problems such as gender inequality, conflict resolution, child rights and HIV/AIDS behavior change.

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  • Brazil for Attitudes, aka Always #LikeAGirl

    2nd time Coaches Across Continents volunteer Marie Margolius blogs from our recent Mexican program with the Rafa Marquez Foundation.

    February 2nd 2015. The second week of our Mexico trip brought Anna, Nick, Markus and I to Guadalajara to work with the Rafa Marquez Foundation. The Foundation was built with three cornerstones of children’s rights in mind: Nutrition, Education, and Sport. The Foundation aims to allow the children of Mexico access to each of the three. Each day, the 700+ children that are enrolled in the program make their way to one of the two Rafa Marquez sites, where they receive lunch, attend classes including computer science, reading and writing, and are provided with a BEAUTIFUL space to play the sport of their choice. And in the midst of the run-down, poverty and violence-stricken neighborhoods where the Foundation sites are situated, using the word “beautiful” to describe the sites seems to be an understatement. RFM provides it’s kids with a safe haven; a clean place that doesn’t match their dirtied clothes and faces. A place where dozens of volunteers and employees shower the kids with caring affection that they might not receive at home. A place where they can run, laugh and play freely without any trace of the violent life that Mexico’s streets contain. It is a beautiful place both for it’s stunning grounds and also for all of the things it offers and represents for the children who attend.

    While the Foundation encourages kids to play sports as a part of their effort to keep them safe and productive, it doesn’t use sport for social impact, so the room for RFM to grow into that space using CACs games was very exciting for us. Most of the adults we worked with were not actually athletic coaches, and in fact many had no athletic experience at all. They were teachers, parents, psychologists, social workers and volunteers, who were simply excited to learn and improve the already amazing Rafa Marquez Foundation. This made the dynamic of the week unique and exciting, presenting us with the challenge of putting together a curriculum of games that could be played in almost any setting — not just on a soccer field. As of right now, RFM has physical education-like classes for ages 4-15, and allows the kids to use the facilities as they please. By the end of the three years of the CAC Hat-Trick Initiative, we hope that the fields of RFM will be alive with the CAC social impact games, providing even more value to the “Sport” aspect of the RFM.

    After our three hour training session each day, Anna, Markus, Nick and I hung around the Foundation, eating lunch with the kids and watching their on and off field classes. One day a four year old boy and his sister came up to Anna and I and made a startling confession. Attempting to translate his Spanish, Anna and I heard the boy talk about being hit by his father who didn’t live with him anymore. Another day, a social worker told us stories of the all too common sexual and physical child abuse in various homes. Nick and I drove through the neighborhood to see closed and run-down shops, houses with plastic tarps as roofs, no running or clean water, and one or two twin sized mattresses as beds for three times as many bodies. As we learned more and more about the context that the RFM exists in, we grew more impressed and moved by the Foundation’s impact. They have started by providing children with some of their most basic rights: food, education and safety. We hope that in years to come, the CAC curriculum can add to this base and help provide these kids with skills they can use outside the four walls of the RFM classrooms and off of the soccer pitch, too.

    During the course of our week long program, Nick, Markus Anna and I focused on the problems that the RFM helped us identify: drug and alcohol abuse, gang violence, child abuse and gender inequality. With such an intelligent group, most of whom were women, I was excited to learn about the culture of gender in Guadalajara. On the last day, we played a game called Brazil for Attitude. The game is simple: the coach asks the players to do a number of different things, first “like a girl” and then “like a boy.” Invariably, when told to run like a girl, the participants trotted around slowly with their arms and wrists flicked out to the side in unathletic form, in contrast to the hard and fast sprints they offered when told to run like a boy. When asked to punch or kick like a girl, dozens of yelps and whimpers accompanied half-hearted flailing arms and wimpy kicks. When providing examples of boy-like kicks and punches each participant concentrated and delivered hard, vicious blows.** The responses from the participants, which we expected to see, were not unique to Guadalajara, and provided a small indication of gender situation and interpretation in Mexico. The exercise exemplified how much room for improvement there is in the realm of gender equality, even among this group of supremely educated and kind people. We cannot wait to see this improvement in the Rafa Marquez Foundation over the next three years.

    **CAC has a Female Empowerment game called Brazil for Attitudes and we were delighted to see an independent version highlighted by the brand Always in their “Like A Girl” campaign, shown during the Super Bowl and attached here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs We are grateful to Always for bringing this universal problem to an international audience as we at CAC see this issue every day.

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  • Fè Chwa Ou – Make Your Choice

    Staff SDL Coach, Nora Dooley, details our second week with GOALS Haiti and the process of creating games with coaches in Year 3 of the Hat-Trick Initiative.

    January 29th, 2015. This last was an unprecedented week On-Field with CAC and third-year partner GOALS Haiti. As we all recently learned, week one was a beautiful success. But week two was the meat of sustainability. It was the keystone for the bridge of Self-Directed Learning and the culmination of three years of support between our two organizations.

    GOALS operates in four rural locations around Léogâne. At each site there are 3-4 coaches who train local youth of varying ages from the respective communities. After working with the group of coaches as a whole during the first week of training, this next week we would shift our focus from site to site. Four days, four sites, four different groups of coaches.

    In the mornings we met in the classroom. We gabbed away for a bit to break the ice and get the coaches talking about their lives. We learned more about who they are as individuals, what they love about their communities and their country, and gave them the opportunity to ask us anything about where we come from and where we travel with CAC. Take my word for it – these are some incredible people. The best anecdote from these conversations was when one of the female coaches, Nadège, brought up how we played a game during week one about traditional roles of men and women. Then she informed us that due to her going to school and not having as much time at home, her husband has begun to cook dinner. I wonder if he knows about #HeforShe…

    Then we transitioned into some of the issues they face in their communities. We asked them to tell us what makes them angry, what makes their blood boil, where do they want to see change. From time to time we threw in a fact about some of the issues they brought up, a statistic about the problem in Haiti, which added weight to the conversation but also sparked their curiosity about similar issues around the world. One such issue was family planning and they were faced with this contentious fact: “The typical Haitian woman will have five children in her lifetime. Because the Roman Catholic Church discourages birth control, birth control is not readily available. Less than 20% of married women use birth control, and abortion is illegal.”  Part of the following discussion saw one of the participants asking us about these problems in the States. We were so impressed, as we know religion is never an easy topic to dive into, especially when we are questioning traditions. But this is what we want. This is where change takes root. Asking questions, allowing curiosity to manifest and seeking alternative solutions to the same problem. This is what we call Self-Directed Learning.

    Once we had a ‘good’ list of problems we had the coaches select one for us to break down as a group. Two of the sites chose gender inequality, another site chose early pregnancy, and another chose lack of education. We worked through causes, effects, and potential solutions. Once we had a good handle of the big issue, the coaches were better prepared to create a brand new game to address the matter in question. Rather than invent a game to solve the massive problem of gender inequality, we can invent a game to teach children about one of the causes they came up with such as tradition, or a game to reveal one of the effects such as girls without a voice, or a game to find a solution such as making our own choices – “Fè chwa ou!” –  or even some combination of these factors. We can have 20 games about gender inequality… but we start simple.

    Then it was time for the coaches to go to work. Our team left them to come up with their new game that they would play with the youth at their regular practice time in the afternoon.

    The outcome was inspiring.

    We saw new games that show the effect of excluding girls from playing football, that prove boys and girls can play together and that an equal society will function more effectively. We saw games that embody messages about being a good leader and how that in the long run will help the larger issue of lacking education, as well as a great game about good choices we can make to avoid early pregnancy.

    They did it. The 16 GOALS coaches truly graduated from CAC’s Hat-Trick Initiative. They have taken ownership of the future of their small communities, and understand the potential that small change can have on their troubled but beautiful country. We will miss these coaches and we will miss Haiti, but leaving them has never felt so promising as it does now. And let’s be serious – we love this partnership way too much not to visit our good friends in Léogâne next year. The difference now will be that they will be doing the teaching.

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