There are things we do and look forward to every day. Some people can't wait for that first cup of coffee in the morning. Others eagerly check their Facebook page to catch up on all the latest happenings with their friends. Some live for that big hug when their partner comes home at the end of the day. Many of us, however, put on our swimsuits, lace up running shoes, or gather our biking gear in anticipation of challenging our physical selves on a daily basis. Each of these activities listed above does something to transform us during the day, whether it is a caffeine jolt, a connection with a friend, or a loving gesture. This leads to the question -- where does sport and physical activity fit in here and why should it be a part of everyone's life 365 days a year?
To begin with, the practice of sport and physical activity is a basic human right, and so all people should have access to sport and physical activity at a level that matches their abilities and interests. When used appropriately, sport also has great power, including the power to inform, empower, and transform both individuals and communities. One way this can happen is through the vehicle of sport for development and peace (SDP). Using sport and physical activity to promote positive social change is at the heart of SDP. SDP activities occur around the world every day, taking on different forms and addressing different social issues depending on when and where the activities take place. One thing is for certain, similar to the daily good natured saying, "It's 5:00 somewhere!", one could also say "It's SDP somewhere" on a daily basis.
Sport for development and peace happens 365 days a year, every day in communities around the world. Sport for development and peace is neither a one-time event nor a one-time interaction. Instead, the whole idea is for the power of sport for development and peace to become real at all levels by including stakeholders, athletes, coaches, parents, administrators, media, sponsors, and fans. Social change in and through sport is vital and present in youth, scholastic, recreational, Olympic-level and professional sport.
Sport can act as a vehicle and catalyst for development, peace and human rights outcomes and has great potential to contribute positively to the lives of individuals and the well being of communities. With the right structure, training and intentionality, the impact of sport for development and peace can be deeply meaningful. Sport must not be brushed aside or dismissed. Everyday sport and physical activity must be considered in the same light as other realms of daily life. Sport is not an escape from reality; instead, sport is an instrumental part of human reality that must not be overlooked.
We need to publicly value and promote sport for development and peace organizations serving youth and adults around the world. We need to continue to create acceptance and awareness for sport as a vehicle and catalyst for social change. National and international sport organizations need to create partnerships and diverse cross-sector alliances that prioritize sport for development and peace. No matter a sport organization's level of competition, there is a place for sport for development and peace at the core of its mission and priorities. Traditionally non-sport national and international development and peace organizations need to continue to recognize and integrate sport projects and initiatives to help ensure that sport is integral to the Post-2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and not left out of the priorities.
The NFL's Play 60 and Michelle Obama's Let's Move both encourage young people to be physically active for 60 minutes a day. Taking this concept a step further, SDP 365 is a way to consider the contributions of sport for development and peace in every setting, as a central part of how everyone engages with the sporting environment. Understanding, embracing, and valuing sport and physical activity insures that the mindset of sport for development and peace is ongoing, evolving, and building day after day, year after year. This is how we can celebrate and reflect each annual International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on April 6 -- by marking progress to see how far we have come and where we want to go -- 365 days a year.
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