BENEFITING: SOCCER WITHOUT BORDERS
Soccer Without Borders (SWB) is a program that inspires and aids youth who lack safe spaces and opportunity to come into a greater understanding of their bodies, minds, and voices. SWB promotes authenticity in those voices represented in their programs, a whole-person approach to help youth to greater understand themselves and their communities, and the belief that the process is more important than the final destination. The values that foster an inclusive, accepting, and supportive community are: -The inherent potential and gifts of all young people -Honesty and authenticity in speech and action -All learners as teachers and all teachers as learners -Openness to all perspectives, voices, and people The organizations creates team environments using the foundations of soccer, educational support, civic engagement, team building, and cultural exchange. Last year SWB had 1,279 youth enrolled across 9 countries, with 410 volunteers. Specifically, I will be traveling to Nicaragua this July (2015) to participate in the Sports-Based Youth Development Seminar and Exchange. SWB Nicaragua has 142 participants, all of which are girls ages 7-20. In my life, I've been lucky enough to be born into a community where young girls were gifted with the same access to education and organized sports as boys. I've played on many different teams, ultimately providing me with avenues towards personal growth through learned values of hard work and respect, and opportunities for education and travel. However, in most countries, girls aren't as lucky as I have been. In Granada, Nicaragua, 28% of girls are pregnant by the age of 18, 52% do not complete primary school, and many are expected to raise younger siblings. Sports have been proven a useful avenue towards overcoming such challenges and becoming and educated and engaged member of the community, however, 90% of girls report barriers to participation with just 13% participating in some kind of formal or informal sport. The goal of SWB Nicaragua is to give girls the social, economic, and educational support necessary to inspire each girl to stay enrolled in school, avoid risky behaviors, and make healthy choices. While the primary school enrollment rate for Nicaraguan girls is 85%, the secondary school enrollment rate is just 45%. Participation in SWB activities earns points that can be exchanged for school supplies, clothes, shoes, toiletries, and soccer equipment. A two tier educational program was set up by SWB in Grenada. The first tier being material and educational support, is available to all participants. The second, providing secondary school scholarships, is available to selected participants. To become eligible for a scholarship, the girls must meet certain participation requirements and fill out an application. 21 girls in SWB international programs are currently receiving secondary school scholarships. SWB is the only organization in Nicaragua that provides consistent, year-round opportunities for girls to establish a student-athlete identity at a young age. I am excited to be involved in this program because it provides others with the opportunities for a better community. If you are considering making a donation, it would mean a lot to me, but it would mean more to the girls in Nicaragua.