With a grant from the Sport Diplomacy program in the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, Associate Professor Sarah Young and Assistant Professor Bill Ramos from the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington will expand their successful Youth Enrichment through Sport program to four countries in Africa. Using sports to bring youth into the program, Young and Ramos will focus on teaching at-risk youth and those with physical disabilities between the ages of 14 and 23 about critical public health issues facing their communities.
Young and colleagues from the school conducted a similar program in Ghana between 2013 and 2015, and will use a similar model during their return to Africa.
“While sport is the mechanism through which we attract participants to the program, we use Time Out for Healthy Living sessions focused on the greatest public health issue that the country is facing,” explains Young. “Usually these are alcohol use or abuse and risky sexual behaviors, working with youth with disabilities, and youth development focused on leadership, teamwork and responsibility.”
Young and co-principal investigator Ramos will lead a team of faculty members from the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington to manage all aspects of the project. Additional team members include Associate Professor Jennifer Piatt, Assistant Professor Priscilla Barnes, and Clinical Assistant Professor Cassandra Coble.
Over the course of the three-year grant, 17 adult leaders and youth from each of the four exchange programs will come to the U.S. for educational sessions about the importance of following a healthy lifestyle, youth development leadership, and sport and aquatic instruction. In turn, 16 U.S. youth and program instructors will travel to each African country to learn about cultural differences, enhance the mutual understanding of using sport to create healthy lifestyles, and develop leadership through the Sport Education model.
The team is attending orientation this week in Washington D.C. to kick off the project.