Sports have long been recognized as a powerful tool for promoting holistic health and well-being – not only physical health. Amref Health Africa’s Sports for Health project, in partnership with The SOL Foundation and supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, leverages the power of sport to improve the sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) of young people in Dagoretti and Embakasi settlements, Nairobi, Kenya.
Today, on International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, we are excited to announce the launch of Phase 2 of the project, which aims to reach even more young people and create sustainable opportunities for their health and well-being through sports.
Through edu-sport activities, trained peer champions, and sports coaches, the Phase 1 project delivered sports and SRHR education, reaching 3,000 girls aged 10-19 (including 358 adolescent mothers). It built the capacity of 30 sports teams that offered volleyball, taekwondo, and football. They offered a sense of community to adolescent girls and became a source of pride in both communities, as well as an entry point for dialogue with adolescent girls and communities.
As a result of the project, 3,000 girls and adolescent mothers and 9,079 community members increased their knowledge and increased their access to SRHR through coaching, mentorship, edu-sports bonanzas, and tournaments. Additionally, 159 community dialogues were conducted to engage adolescents, youth, parents, and community gatekeepers on SRHR issues affecting adolescents and youth.
▪ Proportion of youth with knowledge of the existence of a place to access adolescent SRHR services increased from 24.6% to 95.8%.
▪ The proportion of youth with access to adolescent and sexual and reproductive health services increased from 21.3% to 95%.
▪ The proportion of youth who participate in sports increased by 35.8% from 41.5% to 77.3%
▪ The proportion of youth who reported receiving anything (such as money, food, gifts, etc.) from someone in exchange for having sex reduced by 38.9% from 40.8% to 1.9%.
At the core of the project and key to its positive SRHR outcomes have been the adoption of the edu-sport approach. In this way, the sports teams have been a place in the project where SRHR, gender norms, and resilience can be taught through play and social learning. The ability of sports to facilitate the development of young people’s life skills has meant the project helped translate knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour into positive action.
In Phase 2, Amref aims to local partnerships and increase the integration of sports and physical activity with training and development opportunities to reach more young people in Dagoretti and Embakasi to promote healthy behaviours and improve their SRHR.
The transformative power of sport
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the health and well-being of people worldwide, including adolescents. Many young people have faced disruptions in their education, social isolation, and increased risk of violence and exploitation.
The Sports for Health project provides an essential lifeline for vulnerable adolescents, providing a safe space for physical activity, mentorship, and education. Through the transformative power of sport, young people can develop confidence, leadership skills, and teamwork, which can help them navigate the challenges of adolescence, to know their rights around sexual and reproductive health and how to exercise them, and become healthy, productive members of society.
The launch of Phase 2 of the Sports for Health project represents a significant step forward in our collective efforts to improve health outcomes for vulnerable adolescents and it is a model we hope to replicate across sub-Saharan Africa.
We are excited to build on the success of Phase 1 with the generous support of The SOL Foundation and funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, awarded by Postcode Global Trust, to create sustainable opportunities for young people's health and well-being through sports.
Together, we can help build healthier communities and brighter futures for young people.