As the 2016 Rio Olympics draw to a close and back to school is upon us, we are reminded of the true purpose of afterschool programs- to create champions both on and off of the field, ensuring our children are building characteristics that will serve them for a lifetime.
To participate in an afterschool sport or program typically requires discipline, teamwork, focus, and commitment- all attributes of those most successful at life. Olympians like Michael Phelps and Kerri Walsh are true examples of champions, not only because they are the best at what they do professionally, but also because they are doing their best to help in their communities as they were helped as children. There is no doubt that afterschool sports helped propel them to being both great athletes and great humans.
So as we celebrate our Olympic heroes and role models, let's remember the power that afterschool clearly had for them, and ensure that our own children have the same opportunities of being true champions at life.
Celebrating Champion At Life: Michael Phelps, USA- Founder of Michael Phelps Foundation
Michael notes, "I started swimming on my back because I didn’t like to get my face wet. But because I had someone to encourage me, who understood the importance of water safety, I developed a comfort level for the water. The more time I spent in the water, the stronger I became, and my passion for the sport grew. Swimming provided the opportunity to stay healthy while I learned about hard work, determination, and setting goals. I’m proud to say these principles guided me through my career and are the foundation to our swim program. With the help of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Special Olympics we have reached over 15,000 program participants since 2010 with our life-saving programming."
Celebrating Champion At Life: Kerry Walsh, USA- Founder of Chase the Stars Foundation
Kerry founded the Chase the Stars Foundation in 2004 to support programs and events that directly improve the well-being, health, and quality of children’s lives. Kerry has said with regard to life and sport, “Passion is a huge prerequisite to winning. It makes you willing to jump through hoops, go through all the ups and downs and everything in between to reach your goal.”
Celebrating Champion At Life: Johann Olav Koss, Norway- Founder of Right to Play USA
Johann founded Right to Play USA, a global organization that uses sport and play to educate and empower children and youth to overcome poverty, conflict and disease.
One inspiration in founding Right to Play, as Johann recalls it: "I met the President of Eritrea (in Africa) and said, 'You need food and I have brought sports equipment. I made a mistake. I'm sorry.' He looked at me and said, 'This is the greatest gift we have ever received. For the first time, we are being treated like human beings–not just something to be kept alive. For the first time, my children can play like any child.'
Meet the other 90 professional and Olympic athletes helping share the Right to Play.
Afterschool can help make champions out of all of us, both on and off the field. Thank you to our US Olympians for paying it forward and helping to make a difference in the community!