Beyond Sport Summit

Key Strategies for using sports to combat Ebola…

I had the privilege of speaking at the Beyond Sport Summit in South Africa in October about L.A.C.E.S. fight against Ebola. The Summit brought together a community of people doing life changing work through sports from around the world. I was inspired by their work, learned new ideas how we can improve L.A.C.E.S. programs, and walked away with friends and future partnerships. I want to highlight one specific organization that I believe is perfectly positioned to change history in the Middle East. The Peres Center for Peace brings together Palestinian and Israeli youth to play soccer. Youth from each country cross each other’s borders weekly to be on the same team with the focus of “getting to know the person on the other side”. The results they have seen in relationships being fostered among groups of people that are at odds with each other daily are remarkable. It just reinforced once again the power sports has in changing lives, and changing history.

As Ebola has circulated the global news, Beyond Sport heard about how we were using sports to combat the deadly virus, and asked if I would share L.A.C.E.S. strategies at their annual summit. When asked to share about Ebola I decided not to discuss the statistics and stories of Ebola, but to share with the hundreds of other sport for development organizations at the summit how our core values allowed us to respond to Ebola quickly and effectively. When we started L.A.C.E.S. seven years ago we did not expect that we would be fighting Ebola. However the values of empowerment, mentorship, and local leadership that are core to our organization have allowed our staff in Liberia to respond to the Ebola crisis quickly and effectively. Through history of local leadership, a philosophy of mentoring that resonates throughout daily interactions, and empowering staff to determine the best way to address the social issues in their society has allowed us to not only face Ebola, but in the future we believe will once again allow us to respond to difficult times that Liberians will face. I shared our success and failures over the last seven years in hopes people would learn from our mistakes, but also to encourage them to consider how they might incorporate these strategies into their organizational decision making so they can have the ability to address social issues like child homelessness, neglect, abuse, and communicable diseases when these challenges arise.

Thank you for all of your support in making it possible for us to fight Ebola!

Seren Fryatt

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