• 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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  • We’re Making Sports Safer

    January 7, 2014.  Coaches Across Continents is involved in an initiative to make sport safer for children. Joining the International Safeguarding Children in Sport Working group we are collaborating with more than fifty organizations around the globe to pilot a set of standards to safeguard all children participating in sport. Millions of children and young people take part in sporting activities across the world every day. Unfortunately, sport, as with other social domains, can bring risks such as violence and abuse towards children and youth. These risks can have a negative impact on development objectives and must be guarded against if the full positive power of sport is to be realized.

    IMG_0398Only a few organizations involved in sport and sport for development globally have the systems and structures needed to make sport safer for children, and stakeholders are increasingly recognizing that without deliberate efforts on the part of clubs and organisations, federations, and policy makers, we cannot be confident that children will always have a safe experience in sport.

    It is for this reason that we have partnered with a diverse group of experts including UNICEF UK, UK Sport, Keeping Children Safe, NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit, Right to Play, WomenWin, Swiss Academy for Development, Commonwealth Secretariat, Beyond Sport and Comic Relief, to commit to making sport safer.

    IMG_6970Brunel University have been commissioned by the working group to review the standards at the end of the pilot process. We are working with the this group of researchers to ensure that the final tool produced by the working group is useful and achieves the goal of making sport safer.

    Liz Twyford from UNICEF UK described the standards as a set of actions that all organizations working in sport should have in place to ensure children are safe from harm and should be used as a benchmark of good practice to work towards, rather than an end in themselves.

    At present there are eleven draft standards. These are to:

    • Write a policy on keeping children safe
    • Use procedures, personnel and systems that support safeguarding
    • Assess and minimize risks to children
    • Produce guidelines on behavior towards children
    • Ensure equity – ALL children being safeguarded
    • Communicate the ‘keep children safe’ message
    • Provide education and training for keeping children safe
    • Engage with advice and support
    • Work with partners to meet the standards
    • Involve children in development, review and implementation
    • Monitor and evaluate compliance and effectiveness of safeguarding measures

    Visit the sportanddev website to learn more about child protection and safeguarding in sport – http://www.sportanddev.org/en/learnmore/safeguarding/

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