Wellness: Young peoples’ lack of participation in sports is America’s biggest missed opportunity for long-term success.

If you glance over international education league tables, you may not be too proud to hear that the USA is punching way below its weight. For the biggest economy in the world, USA’s ranking at 17th (Pearson, 2012) and below average among OECD member countries, leaves much to be desired. In the land of opportunity, where education is the primary vehicle  to seize that opportunity, the USA is falling behind its peers. The American dream while still aspirational may be becoming just a little too impossible for too many, to attain. And it’s America’s most disadvantaged, urban youth, that will bear the brunt of this, as the achievement gap continues to grow. I believe improving the wellness of America’s young people is the key to getting the USA back on top.

 There are some broader but related challenges, evidenced by the following facts:

  • 71% of young people do not get the recommended daily dosage of physical activity;*
  • 1 in 3 young people are overweight or obese;*
  • 25% of middle school students report being a victim of violence;*
  • On average only 58% of young people in urban public schools will graduate;*
  • Obesity treatment costs total more than treatment costs for alcohol and smoking related treatment combined! At an estimated $190 billion / year (2005), they are quite literally unsustainable.**
  • Obesity has roughly the same association with chronic health conditions as does twenty years’ aging.***

* Up2Us website / ** Cawley J, Meyerhoefer C. The medical care costs of obesity: an instrumental variables approach. J Health Econ. 2012; 31:219-30. / *** R. Sturm, 2002 Health Affairs.org

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Elementary school participants in Play Rugby USA’s program compete in a fun, indoor, flag rugby tournament. 

So why does wellness matter?

In short, I believe wellness as a core component in USA’s educational policy is the single-most important factor in America achieving long-term economic success. Furthermore, that we need to focus on wellness as the most powerful prevention vehicle we have through our young people who hold our future in their hands.

As luck would have it, there is demand for this among our young people. Participation in sports as an extracurricular activity happens to be the one thing the vast majority of kids report they want to do. Why? Because sports are FUN! And, research would suggest that sports (assuming appropriate dosage of the right sport/s, coached in the right way) have proven to be the most effective vehicle for young people achieving and sustaining wellness. Sports prepare young people for life while developing healthy habits leading to improved health & fitness. This ultimately will lead to a reduction in the systemic treatment costs associated with America’s poor health.

 In New Directions for Youth Development, Michael Bergeron reported that students participating in 1 hour of moderate of physical activity, 4 – 5x per week, during which their heart-rate was at least 50% of maximum –would notice favorable changes in body composition and maintenance.

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Perhaps Sports biggest asset for young people, is that coached appropriately IT IS FUN! What better way to keep the kids coming back for more exercise!

Sports programs have been proven to be the best value approach ($ / student) by engaging multiple students on a frequent basis. The cost of participation in sports is multiples less than the cost of treating obesity. Clearly sports alone cannot prevent obesity but sports happen to be one of the few solutions that positively impact multiple other outcomes of a child’s development. A number of studies show that participation in sports has empowered young people to improve: attendance at school; cognitive function; academic performance; graduation rates and college matriculation rates; while reducing discipline issues; other delinquent behaviors; and ultimately, drop-out rates. In fact, sports correlate more strongly with low drop-out rates than any other activity (Up2Us position statement on Education).

Runners World recently wrote referencing a study published in PLoS One that fitter kids (aged 9 & 10) had significantly better memory recall, particularly in harder recall situations.

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Students from PS279 in the Bronx, representing “New Zealand” took it upon themselves to learn the Haka – a Maori war-dance and performed it at a Play Rugby USA tournament.

According to the Center for Disease Control, for young people the optimal dosage of activity is 1 hour / day of moderate to vigorous physical activity. While at school, physical activity can be achieved through participation in physical education classes, through recreation in the playground and through participation in sports. All three are important but sports have the advantage of engaging young people in structured safe play with positive adult role models (coaches) who can facilitate the development of life skills, increase activity levels & facilitate young people having fun. Moreover, sports delivered after-school provide an engaging alternative when young people are most at-risk of being inactive and / or making bad choices.

So, why are budget cuts year on year reducing opportunities for young people – especially those in urban areas who are disconnected or disadvantaged – to participate in sports? Why is physical education and sports not front-and-center in the educational agenda, rather than a massively underfunded after thought (which is the reality)? With these budget cuts, pay-to-play participation is on the rise and the future for America’s most in need young people does not look bright. Initiatives like the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” are a step in the right direction by increasing awareness but are still ancillary to the core educational agenda and in creating systemic action & change that is required.

According to a recent GAO Report (February 2012) only 55% of schools mandated physical education, and under 16% offered physical education at least 3 days / week (13.7% elementary, 15.2% middle, 3.0% high school). There’s 50 million students in America – so that’s a lot of kids not running around, having fun.

Furthermore, the USA, I believe, is one of the only countries in the world without a Sports Minister, sports department, or anything that remotely resembles a body that has any material influence over mandating or supporting sports participation in schools. Without Sports being a core component in America’s educational dialogue, we’re missing a huge opportunity to create a generation of healthy, successful people to drive our economy forward.

But, let me not criticize the powers that be, without making some suggestions:

 1) Instead of ObamaCare shouldn’t we have ObamaFit / ObamaPlay / ObamaSports. I do of course appreciate the need for access to healthcare (I am from the UK after all) but with the reality of finite resources, debt-ceilings and the associated opportunity cost of political decisions, can we not put our tax-money into prevention and start with our kids- our potentially most valuable asset or alternatively our largest long-term liability. There’s a stakeholder model here through public-private partnerships that can truly work, very efficiently, very effectively, to create a long-term legacy of a healthy America.

2) One such model (there are many) could be to simply multiply the force of Coach-mentors across the country (see CoachAcrossAmerica) delivering Sports-Based-Youth-Development programs. We could place them in schools to work alongside (not replace) physical educators and staff from organizations like Playworks – to jointly develop opportunities for students’ participation in sports during & after-school. If we’re moving towards an extended school day (that’s another debate) let’s ensure physical activity & sports are part of the day and the extension! I mean, I know our kids all love taking tests :) but can they also please play some games!

3) Let’s change and improve America’s sports culture from one of elitism and money making to one that also embraces and encourages amateurism and participation. Parents speak up! Sports don’t just have to be for the most talented “Varsity” athletes, they can be fun for all. Community programs don’t just have to be elite travel-leagues, let’s create some additional leagues that encourage participation, play, competition and fun. American professional sports will be just fine – they’re too big and too popular to fail, but let’s get our next generation of amateur sports players activated!

4) Let’s add in some new, less traditional American sports – providing something new & something different to engage our young people. There’s value in all sports if coached with a player-first philosophy but clearly with a blog called rugby4good I am somewhat biased towards rugby. So, to end my rant on wellness – America’s biggest missed opportunity – here’s some reasons why participation in rugby can help:

  • Rugby is inclusive, life-long, inexpensive and in it’s flag (non-contact) form, safe, simple to coach & flexible enough for almost every school in America to adopt. We have a best-in-class online curriculum and coach training program that can support this effort!
  • Rugby is a vigorous but seamlessly-engaging physical activity:
    • According to a study conducted by the University of South Florida Flag Rugby (6.03 METS) attains the highest activity levels when compared to flag football (4.93 METS), basketball (5.51 METS). Flag Rugby students also reported to be their highest engagement and competence level, closely followed by basketball and further behind again, by flag football. >6 METS is considered vigorous physical activity for young people.
    • Play Rugby USA’s most recent evaluations with middle school students indicate over 2 after school practices (3 hours total), average heart-rates of over 65% in boys and over 70% in girls.
  • Rugby is a second-to-none sports opportunity (vehicle) through which you can develop life-long values in young people:
    • It is player centered – requiring students to make decisions individually & together on the field, enabling them to learn from mistakes, support each other and “go-forward” together.
    • It is fast paced and dynamic – requiring students to “get there” with physical urgency and “switch on” mentally, to make the best decisions for their team in a rapidly changing environment.
    • It is continuous and fluid requiring students to constantly “play what they see” by constantly assimilating visual, verbal and physical queues and reacting accordingly.
    • The “spirit of rugby” is a core component of the laws of the game and engenders integrity, solidarity, commitment, discipline and respect in a way unsurpassed by other sports.
    • And finally, to quote one of our students – Zolia – “Rugby is sanity, you know, mental health”!

7 Components of Camaraderie: One of Rugby’s Greatest Assets

7 Components of Camaraderie – One of Rugby’s Greatest Assets.

As I flew back to New York on Sunday having competed in the World Rugby Classics in Bermuda, I reflected again about some of the incredible people I have had the opportunity to meet, play with and compete against. Just over a week ago, the Classic Eagles  – USA’s over 33-year-old alumni national team managed to beat Australia 15-12 in a hard fought match. With only 3 ‘new’ players on the squad this year, we won in large part because of the camaraderie we had developed competing together over the last few years.

Will Greenwood mentioned recently that rugby was a “passport”. Many refer to the rugby community a brother/sister-hood, a fraternity or family. For many of our young participants it is this support network that may become one of the most powerful assets they will own (and one day treasure) from playing rugby. Rugby may become a passport to lifelong opportunity should they choose to travel with it. This global rugby fraternity is something very unique to the game and exists because of camaraderie – a camaraderie that at its core is built upon a culture of respect.

Pre-training huddle

Maori All Blacks & Play Rugby USA students in pre-practice huddle at Pier 5, Brooklyn. Photo: Michael Lee

Rugby people, help rugby people:

If you know anyone in the rugby world, they will tell you, that rugby players have an unbreakable camaraderie between them. The game of rugby, when coached with an emphasis on its unique constituents can genuinely change lives. These unique components are the difference between a team of players who work together on the field and a team of players who still have one another’s back off the field—camaraderie. Because I had experienced this myself from a young age, I decided to retire 35 years early from my banking career to set up Play Rugby USA. I wanted to create an avenue for young people to experience the vast amount of opportunities that rugby offers, young people that otherwise might not have had one. In doing so, I have met some incredible people all over the USA and from around the world. The culture of respect, the doors it can open, the camaraderie that can be developed are really whatever you want to make of them. I’ve been lucky enough to help John Layfield establish a similar program in Bermuda, I’ve traveled to New Zealand for nearly a month, and not paid for one night of accommodation, I’ve been hosted by Premiership Rugby at the finals in Twickenham and by Phil Greening for an international rugby match. I am lucky, yes, but these people have given back to me, because I have given back to rugby. So, giving back is possibly one of the most rewarding things you can do – so pass it on (just not forward)!

Here are my 7 components of Camaraderie:

1) Respect: to work with and for someone, or to support someone towards maximizing jointly shared objectives, respect is vital. Respect is a core value of rugby (and Play Rugby USA) and a key component in any youth development program. Despite what may seem on the surface a pretty brutal collision sport, you will always see rugby players shake hands and even hug after matches and often eat dinner together in the club house. Even within a match, you will see players offer a hand to help up an opposition player after a stoppage in play, or a gentle tap on the back to respect a tackle someone has made on you. You will never see a rugby player overtly celebrate for making a big tackle but you may see teammates congratulate them for doing so. In sports terms we talk to the kids about ROOTS (Positive Coaching Alliance) –  which is Respect for Opposition, Officials, Teammates and Supporters. Respect is integral in developing camaraderie.

2) Trust: From respect and an understanding of peoples’ characteristics, roles and responsibilities, can come trust. Trusting someone – that they have your back, that they will execute their part of a play, that they will keep digging deep in the dying minutes of a close game, that they will remain disciplined under pressure – is an integral component of an effective team, business partnership, or for that matter any relationship. Trust is also necessary to build camaraderie.

3) Reciprocity: Camaraderie is most effectively developed when you get out at least what you put in. This is equally true between two individuals or among a team.

4) Reward: Reward is the excess positive energy that is developed from relationships founded in respect, reciprocity and trust. The reward is the value added, it’s what keeps you coming back. For a relationship it might be friendship, for a team it might be winning, or performing better, for a business partnership it may be profit.

5) Purpose: For a relationship, business partnership or team to be successful they need to have a clearly defined and shared purpose. Having a purpose provides direction, integrity & clarity in how to go-forward together, even when adversity may appear.

6) Caring: Caring for your shared purpose develops a commitment to the relationship, partnership or team that enables camaraderie to develop.

7) Friendship: is one of the biggest opportunities and assets I see resulting from camaraderie but can also be part of camaraderie.  Making new friends through rugby is perhaps the most valuable part of being involved in the game.

 

Spirit of Rugby Awardees speak about their experience

Play Rugby USA interviewed their Summer Academy “Spirit of Rugby” awardees. The awards were presented to Zoila and Braulis for exhibiting rugby values on and off the field. I have listed a few of their quotes and embedded the youtube interviews below. Enjoy!

Spirit_Quotes_2013

Well done guys – we’re proud of you. Keep Going Forward!

Anything similar you would like me to share, please respond below!

Values and Culture: 5 Images that define us

I have blogged twice to date about Play Rugby USA’s “Values in Action”: #1 Go-Forward and #2 Try Makers, not just Try Scorers. To set the broader scene, using some inspirational images our 5 Organizational Values in Action are explained below:

Play Rugby USA has 5 Values in Action: These are how we operationalize our broader organizational values (to follow in subsequent posts). Our values represent behaviors in the workplace defining us and how we work and our culture.

1) Go Forward: Strive to learn, improve, to experience personal growth, and to never give up.

Learn, Strive to achieve personal growth and never give up

2) Try Makers, not just Try Scorers: exhibiting unselfish behaviors and sacrificing potential personal highlights or immediate satisfaction for the benefit of your team, your family, and your community.

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3) Get There: In games, practices, and in life there is always an opportunity to make a positive impact with your actions and your voice.

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4) Switch On: Being present, prepared, thoughtful & focused; actively listening and then speaking with others points of view in mind.

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5) Play What you See: The ability to make decisions, sometimes on the fly, to adapt and react positively to whatever situation you find yourself in.

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We use these Values in Action in our office in terms of how we interact with each other, our partners and stakeholders and generally in how we run our organization. Importantly however, these Values in Action are embedded into our Rugby4Good curriculum, coach accreditation and therefore delivered daily to our participants. The VIA help explain mutual expectations and behaviors associated with our 9 organizational values. I will explore these values in separate posts, to come.

What are your organizational values and how to you embed them to into the DNA of your organization, to define your culture?

Making an Impact: Local Knowledge and Passion vs Science.

If you had all the money in the world needed to solve the world’s problems, would you support a program founded upon local knowledge and passion, or an evidenced-based scientific approach?

Off the back of my last post about creating a Logic Model, I coincidentally read a couple of articles in the Non Profit Quarterly, about the pros and cons of “Strategic Philanthopy”. This opened up a  debate between Bill Schambra (director of the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal) and Paul Brest (former President of the Hewlett Foundation).

The links to the articles are below along with my one paragraph synopsis and take-aways. My insights are written based upon my practical experiences in developing a non profit organization, and clearly not as an academic!

My Synopsis:

Article 1: The problem with Strategic Philanthropy: (Bill Schambra)

http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/philanthropy/22729-the-problem-of-strategic-philanthropy.html

Local knowledge, traditional wisdom, compassion and common sense should drive foundation and philanthropists’ funding decisions, over scientific rationality (logic models and theory of change, etc) when it comes to solving human problems. These attributes tackle problems quickly based upon understanding the needs and problems of the communities they serve. There are too many factors causing such problems, for any science to fundamentally get to, and prevent the problem at its root cause. The time spent on developing the science (models, systems, etc) to understand this is time that could have been better spent delivering the service. So, if the program is is delivering a good service to treat a particular problem “write the damn check”.

Article 2: Bill Schambra’s problem with Strategic Philanthropy: (Paul Brest)

http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/philanthropy/22745-bill-schambra-s-problem-with-evidence-based-philanthropy.html

Strategic philanthropy should include listening to the feedback and wisdom from the local community but it should be balanced with empirical evidence. Statistics can help us understand some of the underlying causes of problems, which while they may not fit neatly into one box, may enable more effective allocation of resources delivery of services. Theories are scientific by definition and may not be proven, per se, but basing decisions on the best evidence available is more effective to serve those in need, than ignoring evidence or not putting the effort into collecting such evidence.

My Take-away as a Non Profit Organization:

1) Balance: I’m not being non-commital but It is all about balance. Heart & passion combined with local knowledge can drive a program towards achieving positive outcomes. However, if you don’t have a way to evidence those outcomes, (some form of science) how do you know you are really achieving them.

2) Emergency relief as an exception? In emergency relief situations this may be different; given the need to react immediately and tackle an issue using local knowledge & common sense. Sometimes you just have to “Play what you see” as we say to the kids in our program.

3) We started with passion & local knowledge: My charity’s program – Play Rugby USA – was founded, driven and inspired upon heart and passion, based upon a belief that there was a local need and a vision that our services could change children’s lives for the better. We couldn’t prove it at the time, nor did we have any way of evaluating our outcomes.  We just knew it would work and had to sell partner organizations and funders on our vision and with our passion. We delivered through partnerships and expanded from 20 schools in 2006 to over 300 today.

4) We improve with both passion and science: Now, the program continues to be driven by the same passion but by having the appropriate systems and processes (science) in place, we are now able to more effectively improve our program and prove that we are making progress every day towards achieving our long-term vision to create “A Better World through Rugby”. While the non-profit environment is different from business, it is still competitive (and so am I) but we  understand the importance of team work and collaboration. We collaborate and partner with any organization that compliments our vision (and we do regularly) but the fact remains, if we want to fully fund our program and build capacity for the future, we also need to differentiate ourselves and be the best we can possibly be. Part of this means being outcome & evidenced-based, so we have benchmarks to build from. Having frameworks in place such as a Logic Model and Theory of Change help us to continuously improve our program and provide a better service (the reason we started in the first place was to deliver this service). The frameworks also, of course, help us secure much-needed funding.

5) Philanthropists & Foundations: Philanthropy is defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as: “goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially : active effort to promote human welfare.” It is therefore fundamentally about humanitarianism and a desire to improve people’s quality of life, through giving. So, on the surface it seems being more about “Playing what you see”. Luckily, there are some philanthopists and foundation that just “get it” and fund programs because they appreciate intrinsically, the value in the services being given. Our friends, at the LA84 Foundation are a great example of this. They understand the intrinsic value in youth sports. They like the fact we have a logic model but they don’t require it. They appreciate the fact we have kids playing a team sport, is better than those kids hanging out on the street. All charities need supporters like these.

But, the problem is – there isn’t enough foundations or philanthropists like this, or enough giving of money to solve all the world’s social problems. I say this with little data, but clearly not all the worlds problems are solved!

6) So, what would I do? Well if I had enough money to be a philanthropist, I would want to make the most impact I could. I’d support programs with passion, talent, leadership and understanding of their local community combined with a clear vision – first. However, I would want them to either have a proven ability to measure their impact or minimally a willingness & commitment to do so (science)- as we did in our charity. I would consider this part of them “Going-Forward”- striving to learn, improve and never give up (again, as we teach our kids). Otherwise, how would I know my money had been better invested here than elsewhere? This would be true even if I had enough money to solve all the world’s problems. I’d need to allocate that money effectively or it wouldn’t work. Without any science, based largely on playing what I see from exploring local communities, I’d likely get it wrong. Do I support the mother with AIDs, or a starving child? So for me, it’s a balance. However, forced to make a choice one way or the other:  I’d never fund a program that lacked local knowledge & passion, no matter how scientific their approach was. I can’t say it would be the same, the other way around!

How about you?

Making an Impact: Creating a Dynamic Logic Model

Whether you are a head coach, business manager or sports-for-change program manager, to achieve desired outcomes from your team, project / campaign or program, you need a strategic framework for success. By designing this framework, you provide a coordinated roadmap (game plan) for your team to be successful. One valuable component to an effective roadmap / intentional program design is creating a Dynamic Logic Model.

As the name suggests, building a Logic Model itself is a straight-forward enough process and can be a really valuable team exercise.

In the Rugby4Good space, we incorporate and regularly review 7 components in and around our Logic Model to continuously improve our program design. There are of course limitations with a logic model (as there are with most theoretical models) but so long as you recognize these, the Logic Model still delivers significant value.

Here’s a blank template of a Logic Model. If you click on it, it will take you to a downloadable PPT template, courtesy of our friends at Edgework Consulting who helped us create the Logic Model for Play Rugby USA a few years ago:

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1) Problem Statement: what problems are you addressing?

For example, a team is loosing too many matches and wants to improve its winning record, a business is loosing customers and wants to increase customer retention. In the sport-for-change space, perhaps it might be young people in poverty being disconnected from opportunities.

2) Vision and Impact: looking forward long-term, what are you trying to achieve?
Looking forward at headlines years from now, for your team, project, campaign, program – what are you trying to achieve? The team goes undefeated for first ever time, 100% of customers recommend us to their friends? In the R4G space we’re looking to create “A Better World through Rugby”.

More specifically, Play Rugby USA for example is looking for our participants to:

i) achieve pro-social financial autonomy;

ii) to be anchored in and anchors within their communities; and

iii) improve their long term health for themselves and their families.

We call these Long Term Impacts that help us define how we have achieved our vision and importantly, shape our program components to achieve them.

3) Define and Align Outcomes: what short and medium term outcomes do you need to achieve for each LT impact to be met?

For example, for Play Rugby USA:
Short Term: increasing participants’ levels of physical activity, aligns to Medium Term: improving their fitness; or

ST: increasing the number of friends participants have at school, aligns to MT: improving school culture.

4) Quantifying parameters with outputs:
Outputs are quantifiable – number of practices, number of hours of service, number of schools served, number of students in the program, etc. You don’t need to put numbers in there for now, rather list the things you would like to quantify.

5) Identify Activities: what do you need to run to achieve your short term outcomes?
If your outcomes are aligned and you can achieve your short term outcomes with the right activities, then, with progression and persistence you are at least making positive progress every day to achieving your vision.

However, we must ensure our activities are explicitly designed to meet our short term outcomes. For example, if we are intending to increase participants levels of physical activity, we need to ensure for the 5 hours / week we are coaching them that they are getting the recommended daily amount of vigorous physical activity and that they are being more active than they otherwise may be in the playground. So our curriculum and coach training need to facilitate this level of activity.

6) What resources (inputs) do you need?
Based upon the above activity, we need the following resources: a trained coach, a safe place to play,
equipment, oh and of course – our kids!

7) Set priorities and identify gaps .
Get out the highlighter. What are the most critical short term outcomes for you to achieve? What are the gaps in resources and activities requires to achieve these outcomes? Having things prioritized will help make re logic model more dynamic and useful.

Using the previous outcome example:

  • ST Outcome: increase levels of physical activity
  • Output: 150 kids / day
  • Activity: coaching flag rugby after school
  • Resource required: 10 trained and accredited coaches
  • Gap: resources available = 8 coaches

So, we urgently have to recruit and train at least 2 coaches before we start our season. We can then do a similar gap analysis with activities. Clearly, this is not rocket science but once you have done this for all your outcomes it can be quite insightful. It then enables you to create an action plan for filling in any less critical gaps. This is another way the logic model can become a dynamic planning tool- through review, alignment and refinement.

Limitations: what is missing?
I call the logic model our “program in a box”, it is therefore internal in scope. It doesn’t account for external factors in the broader environment that may influence our outcomes. It also doesn’t (using the basic template above) define how we measure our outcomes. For monitoring and evaluation purposes we need to define indicators for this. The Logic Model may also be a little too high level for us to identify certain pre-conditions required for us to achieve certain outcomes. The good news is however, there are many other tools we can employ alongside the Logic Model to fill in these gaps. These I will present at a later date. What is most important however, is that as part of creating an effective roadmap / framework / game-plan – a Dynamic Logic Model provides a great starting point  to ensure you are on the right track to achieving long term success.

Play Rugby USA Celebrates Mandela Day

On July 18th all around the world, communities participated in Mandela Day–Nelson Mandela’s legacy for positive social change. Mandela Day was established after Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better. As the founder of Play Rugby USA, my vision is to create a “Better World through Rugby” by developing and empowering young people to achieve long term wellness and success.

As part of Mandela Day, we brought our Senior Academy students from all 5 boroughs of NYC to our Junior Sports Leadership Academy summer camp for an afternoon of fun, learning, and service. Below are a few photos with some inspirational quotes from Mr. Mandela – I hope you enjoy! If you like these and want to see a few more, check out Play Rugby USA’s Facebook and Flickr Pages.

Everyone has something positive they can give. If we all gave something every day, imagine what a difference we could make.

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination”

Leading the way and passing on responsibility.

Leading the way and passing on responsibility.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Junior and Senior Academy players play team building games together

Junior and Senior Academy players play team building games together

“It always seems impossible until its done.”

It's only impossible until it gets done!

It’s only impossible until it gets done!

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

The kids learn about healthy eating. Yummy!

The kids learn about healthy eating. Yummy!

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

The kids learned about Mandela's philosophy for social justice

The kids learned about Mandela’s philosophy for social justice

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”

We start and end every Play Rugby USA session with a circle up

We start and end every Play Rugby USA session with a circle up