Statement from Minister Paradis: UN Day of Sport for Development and Peace

April 6, 2014 – The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, today issued the following statement:

In all my travels as Canada’s Minister of International Development, I felt most uplifted when I saw children playing and feeling carefree. In Senegal, I watched a group of youngsters play soccer on a dirt field, undaunted by a giant tree in the middle of it. In a Haitian displacement camp, I saw children smiling, laughing and running in all directions, unimpeded by the limits of their surroundings.

Kids being kids inspire hope, and watching them in action reminds us that not only are sport and play vital to a child’s development, they are crucial to a country’s as well. Children are our future, and too many of them have their childhood stolen by poverty, malnutrition, violence and preventable disease. They never get a chance to go to school, to play and to just be kids. 

That is why Canada is supporting efforts to get more kids playing around the world.

Through Right To Play’s Play to Learn Program in West and Francophone Africa, we used sport and play to teach over 200,000 kids self-discipline, cooperation and self-confidence. Through the Learning, Empowerment and Play Project in Jordan, we are rehabilitating classrooms, sanitation facilities and creating safe play spaces. We are also helping Syrian refugees and Jordanian children and youth take on leadership roles within their school and community, providing them with skills they will need to rebuild both their countries.

This year, with Canada’s support, Right To Play will use sport and play to advance development and peace in Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Mali and Rwanda. They will train over 5,000 teachers and work with over 200,000 children and youth, particularly girls, to improve their education and life skills by participating in sports and engaging in physical activity.

Sport and play are invaluable vehicles for improving health, education and promoting conflict resolution. Canada will continue to work with organizations to harness the energy of children and youth around the world to end extreme poverty and create shared, long-term prosperity.

Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie