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How Sport for Development and Peace Works (Pt. V)

Final in our five-part series on how sport for development and peace works.


The regenerative power of having fun, particularly for younger members of a community, should not be underestimated. In situations where children are forced to witness the cruelest, most unjust, violent or depraved manifestations of human behaviour many experience alarmingly, if understandable, high levels of stress and mental health disorders.

Being able to release the tension and to revert to being children again may be all a given child needs to begin to find his/her way back to a normal life.

Moreover, introducing children and youths to the fun aspects of life, such a sport, in a well-structured context, can head-off generational attachments to dispute and possibly war. Children who are exposed to children from groups and communities with whom their parents may be, or have been, or may yet be, at war can lift the level of relationships to a more productive place, where talking and negotiation - and perhaps mutual play through sports - is the norm.

While the "fun focal point" may be children and youth, parents and older members of the community can also gain from the fun factor of sport.

Any parent will attest to the joy of seeing one's offspring laughing, playing and generally having fun. It's as relaxing as it is life-affirming. The struggle to survive is often conducted in the name of one's children and the sense of making a terrible situation better for one's family is common for those in the direst need. Those in situations of conflict, poverty, disaster or disadvantage, therefore, can use the of elixir of sport more than anyone, arguably as much as the younger community members can.

Finally, fun is what we might term a "healthy drug." Fun is infectious and it spreads like a happy virus wherever it emerges. In situations where the basics of life are provided - for instance basic food, shelter and security - the element of fun can be the difference between staying alive and actually living.


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