What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Changing the game

So yesterday I finally got my part of things back to Kaps regarding the Gamechangers proposal. Its been a bit tricky with visas, vaccines, and car accidents.  I went through the other proposals and the requirements and pulled out the relevant concepts that we need to discuss in our proposal, and sent this to Kaps.  It was also accompanied by a checklist that we'll need to hit on, a really bad sketch of the facility concept so he would have an idea of what I meant, and then the proposal itself (one blank, and one with my thoughts in it).  The big thing that we will need is a very rough costing for it and his organization's information as they would be the key applicant.  The rest can go from there.  Not much left to do.
No jokes please...  ;)
I also wanted to take the time right now to discuss what exactly this project means, and why to do it.  Many people may be looking at this and saying, "why build a track in Sierra Leone, don't they have more pressing needs?"  When we look at things through our eyes, in industrialized society, we think of sports as "fun and games".  But sometimes we lose sight of what sport can be in terms of a tool for bettering the community.  Of course a lot of people have heard of the rationale that sports will keep kids off the streets and focused, but it is still easy to lose site of this.  This concept however is a huge part of this project's appeal.  But that is not the only part.

In less developed countries such as Sierra Leone there are completely different concepts of many different aspects of life - sanitation, hygiene, personal dedication, motivation, goal setting, etc.  The education system there is entirely lacking, and many children need to work instead of going to school.  An athletics facility and program can go a long way towards providing a FUN way for children to learn many aspects of life. This facility can do many things:
  • Teach goal setting
  • Teach "hard work"
  • Teach a regimental approach to goals through specified and disciplined training programs.
  • Provide rewarding outcomes to generate self-esteem
  • Teach teamwork through relay activities and other team sports on the main field.
  • Promote avenues for both boys and girls, children larger or smaller, faster or stronger.  
  • Teach basic hygiene through shower and changing facilities (rare in the area)
  • Promote healthy lifestyles
  • Provide a sports/recreational facility for local schools
  • Offer clubs for local youth and adults
  • To give people something to do...
The bottom line is that there are virtually no opportunities for young people in the area.  A facility and club environment like this - through sport - can teach a great deal of things about how to find success in life.  Sports are a tremendous teaching method.  They are fun. Sitting in a classroom is not generally fun for a kid, running around tends to be more so...

Team work, a little self-esteem... from a developing country.
So no this is not a leisure enterprise or a fun thing to do.  This is a specific and well intentioned project to help develop an area of the third poorest country in the world, that has very specific and well documented intents, and is based on a major reason why I am what I am today.  I was a undiagnosed dyslexic who couldn't really read even into the second grade.  But despite continual educational struggles, my athletic abilities gave me a personal source of confidence that allowed my other capabilities to find themselves.  Now I have a masters degree, have dabbled with doctoral studies, and have had success in the business world.  I never would have gotten anywhere without athletics nudging me out the door.  I assure you, I am not alone or special in any way, I just had the right opportunities and support.  Just as we would like to provide for these children. 

Sure, I know, some people think that efforts and money could be used in "better" ways.  As an academic minded person trying to map out the most ideal pathway to development in a place like Sierra Leone, can empathize with this line of thought.  An athletics facility would not be my first academic thought for developing "the community" there given its dire lack of general education and jobs.  But the bottom line is that if the funding is out there, if Nike and Architecture for Humanity want to put up some money for the project, I see no reason not to go for it...   

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