Hockey Blog In Canada has overlooked the summer project that has been running on this very site for some smaller news stories, and I apologize for that. Yes, the news stories are also important, but the charitable organization articles have received very positive feedback, and they will continue. Today, HBIC is proud to present an organization who has thousands of athletes helping their cause. Right To Play is an organization that uses sports to help children overcome some of the many obstacles that stand in the way of them becoming more than what their future may hold. They operate in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the world, allowing the children there to grow through sports, and to meet some of the world's most famous athletes while playing those sports.
Mission Statement: The mission statement of Right To Play is "[c]reating a healthier and safer world for children through the power of sport and play", but they do so much more. According to their site, "Right To Play is an international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Working in both the humanitarian and development context, Right To Play trains local community leaders as Coaches to deliver our programs in more than 20 countries affected by war, poverty, and disease in Africa, Asia and the Middle East". The work of Right To Play is guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and works to help every child possible in the following countries: Azerbaijan, Benin, Chad, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, occupied Palestinian territory, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Zambia.
How Did Right To Play Start?: Right To Play has a very good history page about the organization, and I encourage you to read through it. However, here's how it started in brief.
"In early 2003, Olympic Aid evolved into Right To Play in order to meet the growing demands of program implementation and fundraising. Building on the founding legacy of Lillehammer, this transition allows Right To Play to include both Olympic athletes and other elite sports figures as Athlete Ambassadors; increase relationships to non-Olympic sports; partner with a wider variety of private sector funders; and deepen involvement at the grassroots level.
"Right To Play has a permanent presence in the world of children’s sport and play. In addition to its child development programs, Right To Play is established as a force in international advocacy on behalf of every child’s right to play, and is actively involved in research and policy development in this area. Our vision is to engage leaders on all sides of sport, business and media to ensure every child’s right to play."
The basis of Right To Play is founded on some very simple values and principles. In fact, they have a very easy way to remember their values - the word "children".
C - cooperation (put teamwork and fair play first).
H - hope (help make dreams possible).
I - integrity (our actions reflect our values, vision and mission).
L - leadership (teach leadership by demonstrating it in communities).
D - dedication (dedicated to working with communities).
R - respect (respect each other).
E - enthusiasm (have fun).
N - nurture (encourage each other with positive feedback).
The principles in which Right To Play operates under are quite basic, but very empowering. The first is inclusion - children who may be marginalized for reasons of gender, religion, ability, ethnicity, disability or social background; and the second is sustainability - lasting impact of the programs.
Their work has expanded to include communities in 23 countries in some of the less-fortunate areas of the world. Right To Play has included thousands of children across the world in the legacy of sport, and there have been a number of excellent stories to accompany the games. Clearly, this is an organization that is doing a phenomenal job in helping underprivileged children across the world.
There are thousands of athletes from all over the world who are helping Right To Play accomplish their goals. Among those are NHL and international hockey stars. Some of these hockey stars include Gillian Apps, Jennifer Botterill and Hayley Wickenheiser (Team Canada women's hockey), Billy Bridges (Team Canada sledge hockey), Andrew Ference (Boston Bruins), Wayne Gretzky (Phoenix Coyotes coach), Georges Laraque (Montreal Canadiens), Robyn Regehr (Calgary Flames), Joe Thornton (San Jose Sharks), Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins), Angela Ruggiero and Julie Chu (Team USA women's hockey), Mike Komisarek (Montreal Canadiens), Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators), Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers), Alexander Steen (Toronto Maple Leafs), Elsemieke Havenga (Dutch field hockey), and Rolf Einar Pedersen (Norwegian sledge hockey). That's an impressive list of athletic talent from a number of countries across all walks of life, and that's only in hockey-related sports.
In 2007, Andrew Ference and Steve Montador traveled to Tanzania where they played soccer with a number of children. David Amber of ESPN.com asked Mr. Ference about his experience over in Tanzania.
"Q: This past offseason you traveled to Africa with the Right to Play organization. What was the most meaningful part of that journey for you?
"A: The thing that struck me the most is just thinking about North American society compared to life in Africa. Over there, there is a vast difference in wealth and the quality of life in terms of shelter, having food to eat, having clothes, the simple things we take for granted, even having a family. So many kids didn't have a family, they have been on their own for so long. Then on the other side of the scale, you have the outlook on life, and how they help each other, how they are happy for what they do have and how they approach everything in a positive way. I met orphans who had no family, but still went out and taught themselves English because it might help them get a step forward in life. Seeing that attitude in the kids and how strong they were, then you compare that to people out here that have all the advantages but complain about what they don't have. It gave me a lot of perspective about how twisted some things can be when so much energy in Western society is used on wanting a better car, a bigger house or more money."
You can hear Mr. Ference speak about his time in Africa in the following video, along with Canadian speed skater Clara Hughes:
Clearly, this organization is a first-class outfit, and, from the number of high-profile athletes that have made themselves available, the work that Right To Play does is going a long way in helping children in less-fortunate nations have a brighter future.
How Can I Help?: In a change from the ordinary, Right To Play is carried on the backs of volunteers. In that regard, they are always searching for volunteers to help them reach their goals. There are a few important steps to take to ensure that Right To Play is something you'd like to be a part of: is Right To Play right for you, filling out a volunteer application, and making it through the screening process. Again, this is a first-class organization, so I would expect a high standard when it comes to recruiting volunteers. Please read through the three links if you're interested in volunteering. There is a Frequently-Asked Questions page regarding volunteering as well, and I also suggest reading through that as well. It's highly informative. And don't forget to hear stories of the experiences that some past Right To Play volunteers have had. You can also ask your questions directly to Right To Play by emailing them at recruitment-at-righttoplay-dot-com. If you're interested in a career with Right To Play, I suggest emailing them at hr-at-righttoplay-dot-com.
You can also donate to Right To Play. They have several options for payments which can accommodate most people. You can also buy a mini red soccer ball. The funds from the soccer ball sales goes to helping a number of programs that Right To Play has started. You can also get the soccer balls at any adidas Performance or Outlet store. Donation questions can be submitted via email to donations-at-righttoplay-dot-com.
You can also help by fundraising for Right To Play. You can create a personal fundraising page and send emails to friends and family inviting them to donate. Right To Play's goal is to raise $100,000 annually through this effort, and you can help them with your efforts.
If you have any questions for Right To Play outside of what has already been covered, I suggest emailing them at info-at-righttoplay-dot-com. You can also reach them by telephone at (416) 498-1922. Lastly, you can reach their offices via snail mail by sending your envelope to:
65 Queen Street West
Thomson Building, Suite 1900, Box 64
Toronto, Ontario, M5H 2M5
Depending on where you live, there are also offices located throughout the world where you may be able to speak to someone face-to-face. They are located in Toronto, Canada; Oslo, Norway; Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Zurich, Switzerland; London, England; New York City, New York, USA; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and a special initiative in Beijing, China.
Clearly, this organization is doing a ton of good work to help children in third-world and war-ravaged countries become kids again while teaching them vital life skills that they can use in the future. It is efforts like this that will have lasting impressions on those countries, and make tomorrow a much better place to live. I commend Right To Play for the work they are doing, and the athletes for being leaders in making the world a better place to live for everyone.
Right To Play, the NHLPA, and international hockey stars are helping the communities they live in. It's time for us to help them as well.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!