This summer I am participating in a nine-day culture exchange trip to Granada, Nicaragua through the program, Soccer Without Borders (SWB). As stated in their mission, SWB uses "soccer as a vehicle for positive change, providing under-served youth with a toolkit to overcome obstacles to growth, inclusion, and personal success."
Soccer has been a part of my life from a very young age, and I’ve noticed the positive impact its had on me. This sport has not only shaped who I am, but has instilled values, such as working hard and taking chances. Soccer has also provided me with amazing friends and coaches who are supportive and caring. When I learned about SWB, I immediately connected with its mission and purpose--- to utilize sports as a way to build and develop friendships, confidence, and meaningful relationships. The more I read about the organization, the more determined I became to get involved.
I have been fortunate enough to be presented with great opportunities in sports and education. In Granada, girls are presented with obstacles each day, as 28% are pregnant by 18, and 52% do not complete primary school. Many girls are expected to help with their family by raising younger siblings, cooking, and cleaning. SWB Granada provides over 150 girls, ages 5-20, with the opportunity to participate in organized sports, have safe spaces to explore their interests, receive educational and economic support, and provide the girls with new opportunities.
During my time in Nicaragua, I will live in a small town, embracing the culture through a homestay with a local family. As we are traveling to Nicaragua during their school year, I will experience their daily school routines and help tutor the girls. However, the focus of my trip will be to coach and play soccer with the girls.
Prior to my trip, I am responsible for raising funds to support SWB Granada. Donations will support SWB to continue to help underserved girls year round. In addition to monetary contributions, I will also be collecting any gently used soccer equipment and school supplies for the girls. I would love it if you all could donate any gently used, or new soccer equipment and clothing! If you are local to the DC area, I will gladly arrange a date and time to pick up items. If you are interested, I can send you a list of items SWB has requested. SWB is a 501c3, so all donations are tax deductible! Feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much for your support! Olivia Geno