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David Rooney

Michezo Youth Initiative

Fundraising for ACACIA UK (Action for Children and Communities in Africa)

77 %
£2,475.00
raised of £3,200 target
by 17 supporters
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  • Event: Michezo Youth Initiative

ACACIA UK (Action for Children and Communities in Africa)

We support vulnerable children in Kenya to help them get the education they deserve

Charity Registration No. 1060894

Story

Michezo Youth Initiative - Kenyan slum community football project

Michezo Youth Initiative request sponsorship assistance for the implementation of a community youth football program to help address the needs of street children and other vulnerable children within the Thika district in Kenya. This program is an initiative of Action for Children in Conflict Kenya (AfCiC) and Thika United Football Club.

www.michezoyouth.com

Program objectives

One of the major causes of children migrating to the streets of Thika town from surrounding areas is the lack of recreational activities within their communities, especially within the slum area of Kiandutu just outside Thika town, home to an estimated 50,000 residents. This results in children having a surplus of idle time on their hands, which research has shown leads to a higher possibility of them spending time on the streets where they are vulnerable to substance abuse, prostitution and the spread of HIV/AIDS, begging and crime, often at the instigation of older children or adult criminals.

By seeking to address this issue with the implementation of a community-based sports program, we also utilise sport as a vehicle with which to deliver other important social and community education such as life skills, HIV/AIDS and other health information, a lack of which is another major factor contributing to the numbers of street and vulnerable children.

The program will work very closely with local volunteers, community based organisations (CBOs), and other community representatives within the targeted area, with the aim that this program will not be “owned” by AfCiC or Thika United, but by the community itself. This will help to ensure the success and longevity of the program. At all stages of program development and implementation, local volunteers and community members will be an essential component of every task and decision made.

From the start, youth volunteers drawn from the local community will run the program. This will benefit them, the children they work with and the community in a number of ways. The leadership experience the volunteers gain will be invaluable, and with the addition of future planned leadership and vocational training programs will help to create future community and business leaders. This in turn will act as an incentive for younger children involved in the program, who will be able to look to the example of the older youth volunteers for inspiration.

Why football?

Football is an integral part of most local cultures across the world. It conveys a positive feeling that can bring smiles to children’s faces even in the worst of circumstances. In most places simply arriving at a field with a football will win you instant friendships and immediate access into a local community. Football teams and leagues are ubiquitous structures in even the most impoverished areas.

In addition, by their very nature, sport and physical education are about participation, inclusion and a sense of belonging. The improved psychological benefits derived from sport and physical activity impact on many other areas. Studies show that individuals who are regularly active demonstrate improved academic performance and are more likely to remain in school or in active employment. Anecdotal and qualitative evidence further suggests that sport and recreation can directly or indirectly influence a number of other areas of social concern such as crime, substance abuse, self-harm, violence and social cohesion. And in many ways the benefits of sport are gender neutral.

Additionally, football and sport consist of additional characteristics that make it possible to facilitate the delivery of a range of benefits in addition to the above outcomes. Young people playing sport usually have a special and trusting relationship with their coaches and sports activity leaders, often unlike other adults. This puts coaches and sports activity leaders in a good position to discuss potentially sensitive issues. And in an era when families are disjointed, parents have less time for their children due to the pressures of work or, more relevant in Kenya, survival, sports coaches have a role like never before. They are someone who is trusted, looked up to and learnt from.

As a result, sport programs can tackle such sensitive topics that are often still hushed up or taboo in most societies, families and even schools, or simply not discussed. A Zambian study found that adults are reluctant to share information about sex with adolescents, since discussing sex and related matters with “children” was perceived as “untraditional”. Sport programs can deliver information about health, body functioning, diseases and hygiene potentially far more effectively than more traditional formal classroom education.

Various studies amongst young sportspeople have shown the following:

- Gender issues: When adolescent girls participate in sport they develop a sense of ownership and respect for their bodies, encouraging them to delay sexual activity.

- Safe & supportive environment: Given the informal, social and fun nature of sport and play, the playing field provides a secure environment where children can openly discuss issues of concern. In particular, this is especially effective in the care and support of orphans and other vulnerable children in that sport not only provides structure and connections with others, it also provides a space for expression and a chance to play.

- Millennium Development Goals: A comprehensive report from the UN, “Sport as a Tool for Development and Peace”, concluded that sport - from play and physical activity to organized and competitive sport - is a powerful and cost-effective way to advance the Millennium Development Goals.

Thank you for your support

From both the Michezo Youth Initiative volunteers, and the Thika community, we thank you in advance for any support you can provide.

Regards,
David Rooney
Program Manager
Michezo Youth Initiative
www.michezoyouth.com

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