Article 31 (Leisure, play and culture): Children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities.
We shouldn’t need the Convention on the Rights of the Child to tell us that children have a right to be children and play. It’s pretty obvious. But in so many parts of the world, children are dealing with hardships and sufferings, and issues that they shouldn’t have to worry about. One’s youth is a precious, limited time and should be consumed with explorations and aimless adventures – not with financial concerns and political struggles.
One way kids can regain control of their childhood is through sports. By discovering a game that they are passionate about – be it soccer, baseball, rugby, anything active – they create a positive dream to strive towards. Sports become this magical part of life, where everything else is forgotten and the only thing that matters is the intensity of the game in that moment, scoring that goal, playing as a team. Personally, I think it is incredibly important to focus on sports and physical activity in the work on youth rights. Sports have the ability to transform, and when the response moves towards transformation, that’s when positive peace begins. Obviously sports can’t resolve hunger and poverty but they can heal part of a child’s soul, a child who has endured all sorts of violence.
As we talk about human rights focusing on the youth of today in the Global Youth Media class, I will try to take a sort of “sports therapy” approach to many of the issues discussed. In this scenario, media acts as the channel or vehicle bringing the sport to the child – the championship game on TV or the radio that inspire the child to pick up the sport. The power of media and the magic of sport can change a child’s life.