Kids Play International, founded by three-time winter Olympian Tracy Evans, is a unique kind of sports based youth development program. First, it operates in Rwanda, a country that is still recovering and healing from the 1994 genocide. Second, KPI addresses one of the most critical issues facing the developing and developed world: gender equity. And finally, they are committed to achieving their outcomes through a long-term intervention in one special community in south central Rwanda, the town of Gatagara.
After working wtih KPI in the United States for a year and a half, two members of the Edgework Consulting team traveled to Rwanda in January 2015 to support KPI with a more detailed onsite implementation of its sports based gender equity curriculum.
KPI built the perfect atmosphere for us to do our best work. We took over a small classroom at the Nyartouvou Primary School, which is a 15-minute walk from the field where KPI coaches run the program. At Edgework, we are used to working in extreme settings -- from a safari camp in remote southern Namibia to a compound in Ethiopia -- but to do our best work, we need committed and energized learners who are deeply invested in outcomes. From the organization's leadership to its front line coaches, KPI delivered on all fronts and because of this, we had one of our most successful coach training programs ever.
Over the course of the seven days of program observation and training, we immersed coaches in the sports based youth development curriculum by sharing program methodology, facilitating vital conversations about gender equity in Rwanda, leading coaches through program simulations and sharing cutting-edge research on youth development, youth coaching and gender equity. We explored Rwandan culture and what it means to promote gender equity in a cultural context. Specifically, we wanted to leave the coaches with tools and strategies for how to build awareness of gender equity through sport, as well as how to influence attitude and behavior change. The experience culminated with the newly trained coaches being able to immediatly translate learning to action by leading 50 program participants (local youth) through the refined approach and delivery.
The gender equity theme for the sessions was "Opportunity" and we listened to boys and girls talking about how they created opportunity for their teammates in the small-sided soccer matches, and what it felt like to create opportunity for growth and success for each other. Over time, KPI coaches will start to facilitate deeper conversations, guiding participants towards discussions about opportunity creation in their school, their community and even at the country level.
The response from coaches and participants was immediate and dramatic. Participants could tell right away that the coaches had transformed their approach, and it translated to a better program experience. Many of the coaches who entered the training unsure of their skillset and identity as a coach finished the week exuding a newfound confidence.
As a leader in helping organizations around the world develop sports based learning experiences, Edgework Consulting is honored to be working with Kids Play International, and we look forward to seeing the program grow and thrive in the coming years. In the meantime, the trip to Rwanda was as much a learning experience for us as it was for them and we want to thank our KPI hosts for making our experience so meaningful.