"Sulaymaniyah is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever visited, flanked by majestic mountains, rolling hills, and glassy lakes. But, driving up into those mountains the evidence of decades of war and conflict is apparent; dozens of landmine signs warning of anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines, mortars, and other unexploded ordnance mark the hillsides."
One of the measures of the health of a sport is youth participation. As times change and there is more competition for kids’ time, how can you keep them invested in a sport like baseball, which has complex rules and proficiencies? Major League Baseball (MLB) is taking a close look at baseball in America, particularly among young people. Recent measurements show that the number of 6-18 year-olds playing baseball dropped 7% from 2008-2012, and MLB attendance rates overall are down 8% from 2008. While attendance rates have plateaued for several years, they have never fully recovered to the attendance rates of 2007 and 2008.
To combat these declines, MLB looked to their Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, a sports based youth development program designed to get more young people in urban areas involved with baseball. They wanted to know how they could keep baseball exciting for kids today, while at the same time keeping true to the values that make baseball so special.
Every sport has certain truths we all accept. You can’t touch the ball with your hands in soccer. A touchdown is worth six points. You can’t walk (or run) with the ball in basketball. But what if these rules weren't fixed? When you were a kid, did you ever reinvent part of a game due to obstacles or necessity? Maybe the power lines on your street kept knocking down passes so you re-did the down. Maybe your mom told you that you had to let your little brother play with your friends, so you made him play offense the entire game (even if you were not going to pass to him).
Edgework has worked on the frontlines of sports-based youth development and trauma-sensitive curriculum and program design for more than 15 years. We specifically engage in projects and communities where access to clinical care can be limited, and so our work has taken us across the United States and to parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
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.