“When children play…the world wins”
Two Berkeley women with roots in The Elmwood neighborhood recently held a film screening for an organization dear to their hearts.  It’s called “Right to Play” www.righttoplayusa.org  This gathering of friends was held at the Kensington home of Jennifer and Norman Villarina.  The purpose was to show how programs that teach sports and games benefit children living in the most disadvantaged communities around the world.  (photo left) Mike Altman, US crew team for Beijing Olympics, is in training to become a “Right to Play” Athlete Ambassador.

Lisa Parks and Ann Kletz are both mothers of young children who attended the same nursery school, Benvenue Children’s House rosemaryrichie@hotmail.com in The Elmwood. Their personal experiences playing sports gave them valuable insight into teamwork and conflict resolution. Anne grew up in Elmwood and played soccer for Harvard.  Lisa played tennis for UC-Berkeley, and now lives in The Elmwood.  They passionately believe that every child deserves the right to play.

(photo from left) Lisa with Marx Cazenave, a staunch supporter, and Ann, at the event.

The “Right to Play” model promotes sports and games as a means to develop self-esteem and understanding, teamwork and tolerance, and a diverse range of other life skills.  “Right to Play” staff are now working in 23 countries, including Africa, Asia and the Middle East.  The staff train local coaches and teachers in the “Right To Play” methodology.  Everyone works together to establish long-term programs that foster healing and growth for the children and their community.

(photo left) Kate Duhamel is the documentary film maker who created the 15 minute video that was shown “Liberia and Lebanon.”  It can be viewed on her website www.alleyoopfilm.com

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of “Right To Play.”  It was founded by Norwegian Speed Skater and Olympic Champion, Johann Olav Koss.  He recruits athletes and educates the public through a series of events on “Sport, Development and Peace.”  In fact, American Speed Skater Clara Hughes at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver became of 350 “athlete ambassadors.”  When she won Gold, she donated $10,000 to “Right to Play.”

(photo from left)  Piedmont High student athlete with Teacher-Tennis Coach Ted Scherman are fans of “Right to Play.”

If you’d like to know more about “Right to Play” feel free to call 510.655.7144 or email Ann akletz@righttoplayusa.org or Lisa lparks@righttoplayusa.org

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