Community Development starts with ‘A Right to Play’ – Hararesunset!

Posted: November 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

‘The right to play is the child’s first claim on the community.  Play is nature’s training for life.  No community can infringe that right without doing enduring harm to the minds and bodies of its citizens.’ – David Lloyd George (1925)

Most of us recognise that young people and children are key to community development both because of their vulnerability and because of their potential for positive change. My adult life has taught me that when a community gives its children and young people a right to play it will be giving them a chance to be constructive participants in their community and in society – it is their future achievements which can help us measure whether we have made a positive impact in the community or not.

One of the teams that participated in a Hararesunset sponsored festival

Growing up in a big Bulawayo constituency called Mpopoma, I was given the right to play which helped shape me as a progressive member of the communities I have lived in. All the skills I learnt in life began in this constituency where the Bulawayo City Council provided youth community clubs like Nyathi and Vulindlela where I exercised my right to play. To go along with these, I had access to a clean swimming pool and a library full of relevant learning materials I needed for my education. Having all these, I became an alert adult with the ability to “respect” the communities I live in while at the same time loving them enough to give my time and resources to voluntary initiatives that are aimed at making them even better. So, I had an outlet for my youthful energy and a space to learn, and stayed away from other society ills. Today, in the same constituency of Mpopoma, young people are not so lucky because council and government priorities have changed, taking away their right to play, with the community structures crumbling to oblivion, a situation which has left them vulnerable to society ills which can shape their lives for the worse.

Who has the responsibility…?

The best delivery system of “right to play” opportunities can only be achieved when there is smooth partnership between the

Powering the future through Sport....

government, members of parliament, local councils, community groups like the church, schools, volunteers and parents, recognising the need for play while at the same time acknowledging the hard work and time required to support such initiatives. When organised in positive spirit, these partnerships can provide children and youth with activities, equipment and opportunities, making it a social tool for community development.

But do they care?

From the $50,000 community development fund that was given to each MP last year, did any of them think about reviving these community clubs which lie idle being of no service to communities? Good question, I think using all resources available in each constituency, including volunteers, the cost of reviving just one club would be surely less than $5,000 or so. “So where did the money go to?” someone may ask.

Taking positive steps, “It’s what we do at Harare Sunset”

This weekend, Harare Sunset blog sponsored a Youth Football Festival in Bulawayo that saw more than 200 soccer players coming together to play in a competition. We provided amongst other things soccer kits and soccer balls. We gave these budding soccer stars their “right to play” and will continue to do so, hoping that others will join to help uplift the communities we live in by boosting them with new energies they need to make themselves better using the powerful tool of the right to play. Why not chip in and help secure a right to play for the youth of your own community?

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