Sport for development


© UNICEF Brazil/2007/Versiani
Girls in Brazil play football as part of a UNICEF-supported programme to help them overcome social barriers.

Sport and play are important to UNICEF because they are vital elements in the health, happiness and well-being of children and young people. Research shows that participation by young people in structured recreation contributes to their physical and psychosocial development and can teach basic values and life skills - hard work, discipline, teamwork, fairness and respect for others - that shape individuals' behaviour and help them to pursue their goals and respond appropriately to events in their own lives and in those of others. For UNICEF, sport encompasses all forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental well-being and social interaction: play, recreation, casual, organized or competitive sport, and indigineous sports or games.

UNICEF's Sport for Development (S4D) work is grounded in its mission to ensure that every child has the right to recreation and play in a safe and healthy environment - a right founded in Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child - as well as the right to sport, which is specifically contained in other international treaties. It also recognizes sport-based initiatives as a programme strategy to achieve specific development objectives, including, most notably, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). UNICEF uses S4D to help achieve goals in UNICEF's five thematic focus areas: young child survival and development; basic education and gender equality; HIV/AIDS prevention, treatement, care and support; child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse; and policy advocacy and partnerships for children's rights. It can contribute to communication for development and provide psychosocial support in humanitarian emergencies. Finally, S4D can help fight discrimination and the exclusion of marginalized groups, including children with disabilities.

















 Email this article

 Printer friendly


UNICEF’s Gary Strieker reports on the use of sport programmes to help schoolchildren recover from conflict.
 VIDEO  high | low

video on demand
from The Newsmarket

New enhanced search