Promoting Inclusion and Rights for Disabled Athletes Through Sports
Young Pacific Island Athletes and Their Coaches Pose for a Photo Outside the U.S. Capitol
Did you know that contrary to popular belief, sign language is not universal? Although the exact number of sign languages around the world is still unknown, 19 deaf track and field athletes communicated through a universal language that they all could understand last week: sports.
I was lucky enough to meet these energetic, young athletes and their six coaches from the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands who were here in the United States participating in a Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Sports Visitors program.
Just days before President Barack Obama set off for his historic trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, 16 Jewish and Arab-Israeli teens traveled to the United States to engage their American counterparts and highlight the strong relationship between the U.S. and Israeli people. Using the sport of basketball, these young people have focused their efforts on peace-building and cooperation — two themes central to President Obama’s visit.
Engaging young people is a strategic priority for the United States. After all, today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. And, sports are a vehicle in which we can engage young people from around the world on the court, in the classroom, and in their communities.
During this international exchange, these young Israelis —… more »
At a massive youth soccer tournament last weekend in Nairobi, the competition was peaceful, and the hope in Kenya is that the election season also will be peaceful.
Kenyans want to avoid the kind of violence that occurred after the 2007 elections. In Nairobi’s Mathare slum, one of Africa’s poorest and largest and a hotspot of violence in 2007, more than 20 people have died as a result of inter-ethnic fighting in recent months. Bob Munro, who created the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in 1987, thought that a big tournament might be a good way to ease tensions.
Munro has an impressive track record. MYSA was designed, in part, to employ sports to help youngsters gain self-confidence and leadership skills. Besides offering athletics, the nonprofit supports activities that fight child labor, creates libraries and study halls, and helps kids with disabilities… more »
A Diverse and Socially Inclusive America Needs to Share Its Story
About the Author: Tara D. Sonenshine serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
Diversity is our strength, and everyone, including persons with disabilities, has important contributions to make.
That was one of the overarching messages at the 10th Special Olympics 2013 World Winter Games in South Korea this month, where athletes Tae Hemsath and Henry Meece — born in South Korea with developmental disabilities — returned to their birth country as Special Olympics athletes. Tae competed as a snowshoe racer, Henry as a snowboarder.
That same message resonated today throughout a public forum, where participants at Gallaudet University came to learn about opportunities in international exchange for persons with disabilities, and for members of the deaf community.
The audience was moved by the words and experiences of speakers, including U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a former Army helicopter pilot who lost…more »
American Athletes Promote Life Skills for Indian Youth
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC February 12, 2013
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Barry Larkin and Olympian Natasha Watley will travel as sports envoys to India from February 12-18. Working with Major League Baseball and USA Softball, this trip marks the Department’s first joint baseball and softball program to encourage youth participation in sports.
In New Delhi and Imphal, Larkin and Whatley will lead baseball and softball clinics for underserved youth and their coaches, as well as engage in dialogue on sports and diversity. In both cities, the sports envoys will meet with officials from the Indian Baseball and Softball Associations as well as representatives from NGOs that promote youth sports opportunities. Throughout the exchange, they will speak with local media about how sports encourage in the development of good sportsmanship, leadership, and teamwork skills. MORE
February 6 marks the 27th National Day of Women and Girls in Sports.
Today in Esteli, Nicaragua, girls from under-served areas are on the softball diamond, fielding grounders, running out base hits, and learning how sports can improve their health and their performance in the classroom.
In Donetsk, Ukraine, girls were on the basketball court, looking for the outlet pass, grabbing rebounds, and working as a team.
About the Author: Tara Sonenshine serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
They came off the bus in front of the Verizon Center in their white SportsUnited T-shirts. They were 12 Burmese basketball players — six girls, six boys and two coaches — participating in a sports exchange program that started last summer in Rangoon. Their excitement grew as they sat courtside to watch a real professional basketball game — and see the pro’s warming up beforehand. It grew even more when Washington Wizards Bradley Beal and Kevin Seraphin came over to greet them and pose for photographs.
Then they experienced the unique American pastime of a classic NBA basketball game — complete with cheerleaders, acrobats, chants, crowd applause, and… more »
U.S. Department of State Announces Basketball Sports Visitor Program with Youth from Burma
Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC January 4, 2013
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces that 12 Burmese youth—six boys and six girls—and two coaches will travel to the United States January 7-20. The basketball exchange program, with support from the National Basketball Association (NBA), marks the first State Department Sports Visitor program with Burma. Throughout the program, the group will learn about sports in the United States by participating in basketball clinics with their American peers and engage in educational sessions on nutrition, conflict resolution, and disability sports.
The program builds on the first-ever Sports Envoy program in Burma, that sent Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rich Cho, former Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player Allison Feaster, current Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham, and former NBA player Marty Conlon to Burma as Sports Envoys in August 2012.
The basketball exchange participants, ages 15-17, will visit North Carolina to attend a Charlotte Bobcats game and take part in a clinic with Cho, who was born in Burma, and Bobcats players. In Washington, D.C., the group will attend a Washington Wizards game and meet team members.
SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ division devoted to sports diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State. Athletes and coaches from a range of sports are chosen to conduct clinics, visit schools, and engage with youth abroad in a dialogue on the importance of education, positive health practices, and respect for diversity. The NBA has partnered with SportsUnited since 2005, helping to host Sports Visitors from 20 countries and sending nearly 60 current and former NBA and WNBA players and coaches to travel to more than 30 countries as Sports Envoys.
For more information, contact Anna Griffin of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, at email@example.com.
About the Author: Michael McFaul serves as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation.
Earlier this month, a group of 20 enthusiastic young American ice hockey players and four coaches came to Moscow as Youth Sports Envoys to build stronger ties between the United States and Russia, both on and off the ice. Over the past four years, both countries have sent and hosted high school swimmers, basketball, beach volleyball, and ice hockey players, and coaches in a series of eight exchanges under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission.
We kept this group of ice hockey players very busy during their week-long exchange. At our reception in their honor, I loved hearing about their master classes conducted by Igor Tuzik, Vice President of the Russian Hockey Federation, and by Olympic Gold Medal winners Vladimir Myshkin and Vitaliy… more »
Girls Rule the (Sports) World: Mentoring the Next Generation of Global Women Leaders in Sports
About the Author: Ann Stock serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
On Thursday, I met with 17 inspiring women from Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Macedonia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Tajikistan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Individually, they’re up-and-comers in the world of sports — as athletes, coaches, reporters, and managers. Together, they’re the inaugural class of the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program. The group arrived at the State Department this morning for an orientation to kick off their month-long mentorships with leading American women in sports-related fields.
For the next four weeks, these emerging leaders will work alongside their American mentors from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut,… more »