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Right to Play: A Lasting Impact through the Power of Play

DoubleGSports reporters Charlie Mule (left) and Erin Underwood (right) speak with Sarah Groffy True on the red carpet at the Big Red Ball hosted by Right to Play. (Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

DoubleGSports reporters Charlie Mule (left) and Erin Underwood (right) speak with Sarah Groffy True on the red carpet at the Big Red Ball hosted by Right to Play. (Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)


If there’s one thing that has the ability to transcend cultures, languages and borders it’s the power of sports and physical activity, or in the case of the inspiring global nonprofit organization, Right to Play, it also the power of play.

On November 9, Right to Play held their annual Big Red Ball in New York City to promote the organization’s message of using sports and play to bridge the gaps within communities and inspire individuals. By working with several partners, coaches, educators and athlete ambassadors around the world Right to Play is able to fund, spread and promote that message.

The event was hosted by TODAY Show co-anchor, Willie Geist and featured special guest speakers, 4-Time Olympic Gold Medalist and Right To Play Athlete Ambassador, Allyson Felix and Right To Play Africa Policy Director, Dr. Dennis Bright.

At this year’s gala more than 30 of those athlete ambassadors, including over two-dozen Olympic medalists, were in attendance and spoke on the crucial role sports and activity play in the lives of children.

“Being able to play is part of being a child. It’s something that we take for granted in this country,” commented Molly Shaus, two-time Ice Hockey Olympic Silver Medalist. “Generally people think about play as just being a physical activity but the lessons that we learn through play – it’s educational, it’s awareness of self, it’s beyond anything physical.”

Right to Play works in 19 countries around the world and reaches millions of children every year, with the unifying goal of promoting health, wellness and positive community participation. As access to play, physical activity and sports is readily available and encouraged for children in countries like the United States that is not the case for millions of children elsewhere.

By encouraging participation in sports in underdeveloped communities, children learn valuable life lessons that can only be taught through recreational activity.

“Right to play embodies a lot of similar values that I think I learned from sports. Sports are an incredibly powering transformative vehicle for things in life,” Commented Sasha DiGiulian, World Champion Rock Climber. “As an athlete I’ve experienced a lot of the same things that Right to Play is trying to convey.”

In additional to using play to promote overarching life skills, the nonprofit organization ensures that educators and community leaders are trained to create engaging lessons and games to bring awareness to practical life-saving practices like getting vaccinated, using a mosquito net and effective hand washing. Through these various games, Right to Play is able to teach children the crucial skills that can help them in overcoming poverty and disease within their communities.

For young girls in particular, access to programs that promote health, education and leadership are not always readily available. Through sports and physical activity, young girls are able to live healthier lives and take on influential roles they would not normally have otherwise.

When asked what type of additional impact this organization and similar outreach programs have for young girls facing adversity, DiGuilian said, “Sports are an incredible empowering tool for girls to learn that they can be leaders. I think that I’ve learned an incredible sense of identity and personal goal setting and determination through my experience in sports. What girls can learn through sports is that they can do it to. You learn a lot about your self-confidence.” She continued, “Through the power of play we can inspire girls to be leaders.”

Right to Play is a transformative organization that has managed to successfully effect positive change for millions of people around the world. It’s apparent that through their mission statement, which says that they aim to “focus on measurably impacting the three most critical areas of child development: the quality of their education, their ability to stay healthy and their potential to help build peaceful communities,” success was inevitable.

By providing children a funnel through which they can positively contribute to their communities in exciting ways, Right to Play is making a lasting impact that will affect not only the children they reach directly, but also the lives that those children then touch, transforming generations to come.

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