Thanks to my International Sport for Development and Peace Association colleagues Sarah Hillyer (Georgetown University) and Eli Wolff (Brown University), I was able to attend the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) Symposium titled “Sport for Development and Peace: Initiatives, Challenges, and Pathways Forward.” To view the presentations click here.
The field of sport for development and peace is still relatively young and aiming to achieve legitimacy from the mainstream international development community. Nonetheless, it was welcoming to see AAPHERD host this event. Furthermore, many of the academics involved in this field are scholar-activists, working on the cutting-edge of research and practice both in the United States and around the world. In listening to the presentations, I was reminded by the quote from cultural anthropologist – Margaret Mead, who stated “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.“
As with most conferences, one must find ways to take away the information that will add value to the organizations in which one serves. As a coach who works with young people, the three big “take-aways” were: designing positive sport-based experiences, the importance of pedagogy and leveraging support networks. Each of these requires skill, patience and coordination that can be developed over time. In short, to advance this field more awareness is necessary starting with coaches, teachers, administrators and parents.