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 is the Executive Director of 2-4-1 CARE, Inc and Co-Founder/Director of 2-4-1 Sports -- a signature program of 2-4-1 CARE-- whose flagship program is held at the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Conn. but now has locations throughout the United States and Canada. 2-4-1 was recognized by the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC as one of eight model programs in the United States for its approach to anti-specialization in youth sports. This led Steve to form the National Association of Physical Literacy – of which he is now Advisory Board Chair. Steve is also a founding member of the Quality Coaching Collective – an international group of activators around sport, movement and mindfulness. Lastly, through his role at CCG, Steve was the two-year Global Lead on Physical Literacy and Athletics for Whittle School & Studios (2018-20), which currently has campuses in Shenzhen, China and Washington, DC.