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Five years and a red ball changes 500,000 children's lives

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Right To Play Celebrates Five Years of using the Transformative Power of Sport and Play for Development, Health and Peace
Toronto, Canada, November 29, 2005

  • International humanitarian organization, Right To Play today celebrates five years of leadership in using sport and play as a strategic and innovative part of the international development agenda for children and youth. Over the past five years, Right To Play has reached 500,000 children in the most disadvantaged areas of the world. By the year 2015 Right To Play aims to reach 5 million children with its sport and play programs on a weekly basis.

"Globally, more than 700 million children are the victims of war, preventable diseases, and HIV/AIDS. Often these children live in difficult situations that lack the resources to support their healthy development," says Johann Koss, four-time Olympic Gold Medalist, President and CEO, Right To Play. "Right To Play provides regular and inclusive sport and play activities as tools to enhance healthy child development, build individual capacity, strengthen community partnerships and networks, and to promote peace. Our goal is to continue to be a leader in Sport for Development and Peace, a UN-backed policy initiative to promote the inclusion of Sport for Development, health and peace on the international development agenda."


Girls in Sierra Leone Playing Football

Right To Play deploys International Volunteers to implement programs with local partner organizations and Local Coaches to further build community capacity to independently run sustainable programs. Since Right To Play was incorporated as a charitable organization in November 2000, it has established 40 programs in 20 countries, including Sierra Leone and the Palestinian Territories. To date a total of 6,000 Local Coaches have been trained by an annual 80 Right To Play International Volunteers.

In Sierra Leone, Right To Play continues its SportWorks project with Liberian refugees in Bo, and its community-based SportHealth projects in Kono, Makeni and Freetown. Since Right To Play began implementing programs in Bo, over 250 Coaches have been trained in Right To Play modules, and they now provide on-going regular activities for 15,000 children in eight refugee camps. These Coaches have also been trained in UNHCR's Peace Education program, equipping them with key skills to assist in their reintegration upon their return home.

"In Sierra Leone, Right To Play is creating a sustainable system to deliver inclusive sport and play programs and activities for Liberian refugees and Sierra Leonean communities affected by conflict," said Julie Staples, Senior Program Officer. "Our SportHealth program additionally uses the convening power of sport to support national health priorities toward HIV/AIDS education and prevention, and to teach about healthy lifestyle behaviours, in a fun and memorable way through games and activities."

In Jericho and Ramallah, Right To Play SportWorks programs have included thousands of school children in organized sports and play activities. In the first nine months of 2005 alone, Right To Play worked in 31 schools, 14 preschools, 37 community centers, 3 centres for children with special needs, and trained 239 teachers and 251 community volunteers. Overall Right To Play reached approximately 36,000 children in the Palestinian Territories.


Right To Play is an athlete-driven international humanitarian organization that uses sport and play as a tool for development of children and youth in the most disadvantaged areas of the world. It is a partner of choice for leading aid agencies, including UNICEF, UNHCR, and the Red Cross. Right To Play's International Headquarters are in Toronto, Canada with National Offices in Holland, Switzerland, Norway, the UK, Italy and the U.S.

For more information and interviews, please contact: Tommi Laulajainen at +1-416-498-1922, ext. 236 or at +1-647-400-3308 (mobile), or by email at;