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Sport for development refers to any initiative that uses sport to help improve or strengthen its community or helps assist people in need. However, when people talk about sport for development they are often referring to organizations like Right to Play and UNICEF who work in developing countries all over the world. What is often overlooked is the work being done locally in the sport for development movement.

The J. W. McConnell Foundation is a strong believer in the Sport for development movement in Canada; they currently support multiple organizations with the vision of promoting healthy lifestyles and helping vulnerable individuals and communities. Sport Matters Group (SMG), which is one of the McConnell Foundation grant recipients, is hosting three regional Sport for Development gatherings (Halifax, Toronto, Vancouver) leading up to their National gathering (Ottawa). These gatherings look to bring together leaders and innovators in the field of sport for development in order to share ideas and find ways to advance the movement.

Examples of sport for development:

SMG’s Sport4Change website helps to highlight some of the amazing work being done across this country by different organizations and individuals. These stories include:

  • Night Hoops – A non-profit organization that provides late-night basketball programs for at-risk youth.
  • MoreSports – Provides sustainable sport and physical activity opportunities for children and families.
  • Sport Nova Scotia Youth Leadership Program – Youth facing barriers to employment are provided with skills training and on-the-job experience.
  • And many, many more

While programs like Right to Play do amazing work, reaching one million children across the world, it is important not to overlook the benefits sport can provide locally to improve our communities in Canada.

Here are just a few of the ways sport can have a positive impact on a community:

  • Healthy living – Sport participation is known to have numerous health benefits.
  • Safety – By promoting positive values sport programs have been shown to yield significant reductions in crime.
  • Inclusion – Sport programs can help make communities more inclusive to individuals with disabilities.

It is because of these benefits that it is important to continue to support and advance the sport for development movement both internationally and locally.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Beacom, A. (2014). Sport for development and peace: a critical sociology. Sport in Society, 17(2), 274-278.

2. Carreres- Ponsoda, F. et al. (2012). The relationship between out-of-school sport participation and positive youth development. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 7(3), 671-683.

3. Darnell, S. C. (2010). Power, Politics and “Sport for Development and Peace”: Investigating the Utility of Sport for International Development. Sociology of Sport Journal, 27(1), 54-75.

4. Holt, N. L. et al. (2012). Physical education and sport programs at an inner city school: exploring possibilities for positive youth development. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy , 17(1), 97-113.

5. Maximizing the Benefits of Youth Sport. (2013). JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. 84(7), 8-13

6. Pink, M., & Cameron, M. (2014). Motivations, Barriers, and the Need to Engage with Community Leaders: Challenges of Establishing a Sport for Development Project in Baucau, East Timor. International Journal of Sport & Society, 4(1), 15-29.

7. Wilski, M. et al. (2012). Personal development of participants in Special Olympics unified sports teams. Human Movement, 13(3), 271-279.

The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.