25 March 2010

Right To Play: Sefera Selam

In the Village, the Peaceful Village

There is no fancy jungle gym here, just an open space with uneven cobbled ground. This is Sefera Selam, a primary school that sits in one of Addis Ababa’s most impoverished areas. Tons of kids fill Sefera Selam’s schoolyard to participate in this afternoon’s Right To Play activities. The equipment is simple: a couple of pieces of fabric, a few jerseys and some cones. Right To Play makes do with little to no apparatus, but the lessons are rich in values. Right To Play makes leaders.

After a long day of school, the kids are wound up and revving to run. A few of the older, more responsible kids take the helm of this madness. They are Sefera Selam’s designated Right To Play Junior Leaders and have been selected for these positions because of their commitment to the program’s teachings. These four Junior Leaders take their duties very seriously. They help guide the younger participants through the day’s exercises, leading races and games of concentration and balance.

It is impressive to watch them keep the youngsters on task, but even more admiration is found in the way they facilitate the group discussions that follow each activity. Here they pause, opening the floor to the little ones’ opinions and thoughts regarding the games; now we hear the day’s take-away lessons applied.

There is nothing innovative about the idea of a role model. There is nothing technological or expensive involved in nurturing leadership. Right To Play’s vision is to create a healthier and safer world through the power of sport and play and it is doing so by teaching children to look after ones’ self in addition to looking after one another. Some believe it takes a village to raise a child. Here at Sefera Selam, which translates to the “village of peace,” children are raised by the village to, then, raise the village.

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