Earlier this week, I was reminded once again that kids are kids no matter where they come from or what circumstances they are born into. Ultimately — more than anything — kids have a need to belong, they benefit from having at least one adult in their lives that really cares for them, and above all — they just like playing with their friends in safe settings.
And I was reminded that as we expand our reach globally — all the magic happens — locally.
This past Monday, Kerry and I were visiting our school-based programs in Hartford and while there, we were receiving photos and videos from 2-4-1 programs that were going on simultaneously in Boulder, Colorado and Zambia, Africa. I was struck by the poignant similarities in the smiles and the sounds of play. And, I was warmed by the fact that I knew there were leaders at each of the programs who recognize that sometimes the best way to lead is to get out of the way and let kids be kids.
You likely know by now that besides our emphasis on free play and small-sided games, we really see sports as the ideal setting for teaching leadership and the skills of social emotional learning. Stephen Chandra, our 2-4-1 Director from the Care Sport Foundation in Zambia shared that the children he serves have developed what many of us would describe as “learned helplessness.” But, he is happily sharing that he sees signs of our program breaking this cycle. Similarly, we can share countless anecdotes from our school-based programs in Connecticut where the children report being grateful for the skills they’re learning to manage persistent anger, sadness and anxiousness. Play-filled sports are the hook, but relationships and skill-based social emotional learning are the change agents.
Go to a local park anywhere in the world and witness the innocence of children and the universal language of play. You put four 8-year olds regardless of race, gender, language spoken, or socio-economic background together and toss them a ball and I can almost guarantee you they’ll start playing together. It might take some longer than others, but ultimately – they’ll start interacting even if they can’t communicate verbally. That’s what inspires us to do the work we’re doing. With all that is going on in the world, we recognize that no matter where we go, kids are kids. We have an opportunity to literally change this world if we use the power of play to create happier, healthier individuals – physically and mentally.
Thank you for your ongoing support of all we do. Hope to see many of you in the not so distant future!
About Steve Boyle
Steve Boyle is a visionary leader and advocate for youth sports and physical literacy. As the Executive Director of 2-4-1 CARE, Inc. and Co-Founder/Director of 2-4-1 Sports, Steve stands at the forefront of the movement to transform the youth sports paradigm. His forward-thinking anti-specialization approach has garnered acclaim from esteemed institutions like the Aspen Institute. At the helm of 2-4-1, Steve has skillfully guided its expansion from its flagship location in West Hartford, Connecticut, to a range of locations across the U.S., Canada, and Africa. His leadership has not only scaled the program but also redefined the standards of youth sports Beyond the scope of 2-4-1 Sports, Steve’s influence extended to developing the National Association of Physical Literacy, where his insights as Advisory Board Chair were pivotal. His tenure as Global Lead on Physical Literacy and Athletics for Whittle School & Studios marked a significant contribution to the global community, shaping the athletic and physical education frameworks across campuses in Shenzhen and Washington, D.C. Steve is equally known for merging his expertise in counseling with his coaching acumen to create the TOP Self social-emotional learning platform. This innovative endeavor leverages sports to impart essential social-emotional learning skills, cementing Steve’s status as a national authority in physical literacy development.
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