• This is Sierra Leone!

    May 31st 2017. CAC’s Jordan Stephenson wrote about his experience in Freetown, Sierra Leone working with our fantastic partner Street Soccer Foundation, Sierra Leone.

    The first thing you notice when arriving in Sierra Leone is that it is an adventurous nation! From walking off the plane and getting hit with a wall of heat – you know you’ve landed in the right place! The great thing about arriving in Freetown is that you need to take 3 modes of transport to get there: once arriving at the airport you take a short bus journey to the beach and from there you get on a boat which travels for 30 minutes across the ocean into Freetown! Being a Newcastle United supporter, when arriving at the hotel I immediate was caught up in a debate about who Rafa Benitez should be bringing in next season following our promotion to the Premier League, from then I knew this was a nation of sport lovers! Therefore it seems like an appropriate place to be doing our line of work…

    The training consisted of 100 community coaches and Physical Education teachers from all across the country who’s passion and love of sport exemplified the spirit of the nation. We were lucky enough to have the training in the National Football Stadium, and although the pitch wasn’t what you’d expect to be an international venue to be like, it provided a wonderful amphitheater for the weeks training.

    Mr Abu Johnson, CEO of Street Soccer Foundation highlighted that “this is the first time that the people of Sierra Leone are having training on a national level to cultivate the energy of change agents to create long term sustainable change through sport”. I certainly felt like it was very important to the nation as we were greeted with journalists from TV and radio who wanted to know what we were trying to achieve and how we’re trying to achieve it – that even meant sitting watching myself on TV and on the radio!

    The training itself was a huge success as we explored the ways that the communities in Sierra Leone can embrace sport as an essential vehicle to achieve strong development goals, with an important aspect being one of including community elders and village chiefs within discussions and programs, especially so they can see the value of education through sport as that is something they never experienced growing up.

    A stand out memory for me was a discussion about the number of children people had across Sierra Leone and the impact that has on communities. It was said that in urban communities, like Freetown, it is more beneficial to have less children as it costs more to feed children and it becomes harder for families to send their children to school due to tuition fees; whereas in remote parts of the community, children are seen as assets to the family as they can be used as labor to harvest food, farming and for street traders in order to bring in more income to the family, at the expense of a quality education.

    Looking forward at the three year partnership we have with Street Soccer Foundation, it is very exciting to see how the 100 participants are continuing to be supported and that more community legacies can be created through sport. Street Soccer Foundation are working tirelessly to continue to engage stakeholders such as Sierra Leone Football Association, Ministry of Sport and Ministry of Education in order to have a country wide effort to tackling social change through sport.

    And to all of the people of the peaceful nation of Sierra Leone.. Thank you!

  • Crossing Borders, Finding Home

    February 25, 2017. Self-Directed Learning Process Consultant, Emily Kruger writes about FESAC program in Obregón, Sonora, Mexico.

    Part 1: Borders

    We arrived in Ciudad Obregón after an incredible 4 days with the Physical Education teachers in Hermosillo, who set the bar very high for the three locations in our partnership with FESAC and SEC in Mexico. Within just a few minutes of Monday morning’s Circle of Friends, it was obvious that these 50 PE teachers would bring the same enthusiasm and creative thinking that enriched the week before. This meant another week with a special flare for a Year 2 program, where CAC could confidently share ownership of the week with the participants. When asked about creating and leading their own games, participants made it clear they wanted more responsibility than they took on last year.

    By Tuesday they were already working together to prepare the session for Wednesday. There were seven groups of 4-5 coaches, each one huddled around big sheets of paper on make-shift tables with markers in hand. We walked around and listened in as they collaborated: pointing, moving, deliberating, drawing, and re-drawing. Within 30 minutes, each group had a full sheet of paper with a diagram up top, description of how to play, and potential questions to ask while leading it. They were even checking the criteria: Are the games you created universally accessible? Is there space for problem solving and critical thinking by the students? Is there a social impact message integrated into the game? We asked if they would be ready to coach them the next day and there was a resounding “sí!” from everyone.

    My favorite game was called “Muro de Trump” or “Trump’s Wall”. They split the groups into four teams and asked each one to pick a Mexican city that borders the U.S. When the coaches called out a city, that team tried to “cross the border” without being tagged by the border control officers. They added ways to get through border control legally, like obtaining a visa i.e. a ball. This was such a creative, locally-relevant iteration of what I called “sharks and minnows” growing up. Considering it was a new idea, the coaches agreed that there was more to the metaphor that they are going to work out because they really want to use this game to talk with their students about the realities and dangers of crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. For example, what are the consequences of being caught by border police without a visa? What might happen when you get to the other side? Why do people in Mexico want/need to live in the U.S.? There is so much here to dig into! Not only is it a dynamic game, but it also creates a space for some very important conversations between teachers and students here in Mexico.

    This game made me see immigration through the lens of people in Mexico. It will be an important conversation and reflection to continue as we travel to Nogales for our final week working with the Physical Education teachers of Sonora, Mexico!

  • Encuentro Internacional de Educatión Física

    August 7, 2016.  This past week CAC Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz was a key presenter and speaker at the Encuentro Internacional de Educatión Física in Lima, Peru hosted by the Ministry of Education. This international meeting is a space for exchange of experiences, ideas, practical implementation, and strengthening teaching practices. CAC was invited to present at this prestigious conference based on our partnerships and relationships within Peru with numerous groups such as UNICEF, various ministries, and other strong NGO implementing partners. One of our member partners, Fútbol Más, also presented their curriculum and methodology at the conference.

    Attended by over 2,000 practitioners, teachers, coaches, and pedagogical members of the Ministry of Education and other government officials, the international conference will launch the new National Curriculum and aim to strengthen physical education and school sports across all levels of Basic Education (preschool, primary, and secondary). Registration for the conference exceeded 8,000 people, but space limited the attendees to only 2,000 individuals. The Ministry of Education live streamed the event for more inclusion. Presenters included experts in all fields of physical education from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Peru, and Spain, Chile.

    During the conference Brian was interviewed by TV Peru (national television) and ANDINA, a news agency owned by the Peruvian government. On Thursday, newly sworn-in Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was shown on morning television with his cabinet exercising, sparking an interest in the physical education conference.

    CAC’s methodology and curriculum has been well received and adopted by various government ministries, community partners, and NGOs during our year-round partnerships in the past several years. This presentation will further enhance this exchange of ideas and practices as well as strengthen our relationship with various Peruvian agencies that wish to create pathways for social change through sport.

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  • Integrating CAC Into The Sonora Education System

    An interview with Ana Berta Salazar, one of the authorities of the Education Department, our partners in Sonora, México. 

    February 12th 2016. During our three weeks in Sonora, México, we’ve assisted in the strategic process as the members of the Education and Culture Department (SEC) aim to include Sport For Social impact as a tool for sustainable community transformation inside the public education system. Specifically as a part of the Physical Education Curriculum for elementary and secondary schools. ​​

    Since most of the time you hear how a program went from our perspective as Self-Directed Learning coaches, we wanted to offer this space to one of our implementing partners to share with you how they’ve received the Coaches Across Continents experience in their community.

    Ana Berta Salazar, one of the authorities of the Education Department in Sonora México, said:

    “As the public sector, the Education and Culture Department of the government in Sonora has committed to facilitate the education for children and youth to become people with integrity that can serve our society and community in Sonora.

 As the Director of Linkage in this department I decided to find innovative ways to address subjects of potential social impact, that might promote the improvement of strong values and humanity in local youth. 

We found that opportunity when a member of FESAC (Fundación del Empresariado Sonorense A.C) talked to us about the CAC program. From this conversation emerges a strategic alliance that led to over 200 Gym Teachers receiving the training in 3 of the main cities of the state: Hermosillo, Ciudad Obregón and Nogales.

    Our experience could not have been better: teachers excited, committed and aware of the relevance that their work has with youth that clamor for love and guidance. There is nothing more gratifying than a teacher’s smile. They all attended daily with the best attitude; “This is the type of knowledge we’ve needed for years”, “I’m so happy that I had to tell my family about this”, “we want these trainings to happen again”, “thank you so much for thinking about us” or “yesterday I already started putting in practice what we learned during the morning” are some of the comments we’ve heard so far.

    We know that the effort, the search for spaces and resources to make this happen was worth it. We feel convinced of the impact that this training will have on our children and youth, the future social artists of the development and transformation of Sonora. We are proud to be the first state to integrate CAC’s Hat Trick Initiative into the public education system in México.”

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  • Mexican Teachers Get Creative

    CAC SDL coach Turner Humphries blogs from Hermosillo, Mexico as we begin a partnership with FESAC.

    Admittedly, my Spanish has yet to reach fluent levels, but from what I could gather it seemed like one of the participants was asking me a great deal about the type of football played North of the border. He went on to ask me where all my equipment was? Didn’t I need a helmet and shoulder pads? Attempting to ease his worries, I pointed to the box of One World Futbols. “We only need those,” I said. A look of pure relief swept over his face, surely glad that I hadn’t arrived in Hermosillo to conduct linebacker training.

    For our week in Hermosillo, Mexico we would be working with FESAC, an organization that works to link groups within the community together to create spaces for sustainable development and the Department of Education and Culture. With us on the field were over 100 physical education teachers from primary and secondary schools. While most of the participants were experiencing sport for social impact for the first time, they brought with them a creative spirit that meshed perfectly with Coaches Across Continents’ mantra of ‘solve your problem.’ On our final day together the participants were divided into two groups to conduct coach-backs. As the coaches made their way to field, we saw more than just their customary coffee in their hands. Twenty multi-color hula hoops, a handful of bandanas and two massive exercise balls were all making their way to field. The hula hoops were used in a tag game. With hula hoop in hand, the taggers set off trying to infect free players with a disease by catching the free players inside the hula hoop. Cones were then added which allowed the free players to avoid the wrath of the hula hoop; these cones represented healthy measures that would reduce your chance of disease. The bandanas were used in a problem solving game. The bandanas were used to simulate blindness, those teammates without a blindfold were tasked with getting their blind teammate to dribble through a set of cones. The enormous exercise balls were used in an adaption of the CAC game ‘Pairs Scrimmage.’ The rules were adapted to include a mix of rugby, American football, soccer and basketball, hilarity ensued.

    Thinking back to my physical education classes in secondary school I remember itchy gray t-shirts, deflated soccer balls, teenage angst and a teacher that looked like he would have rather been anywhere else. Clearly the students in Hermosillo never have a dull day when they arrive to physical education class, for that they have this creative bunch of teachers to thank.

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