Message from my Heart
My daughter participated in a recent swim meet at SOCAL Aquatics and it was amazing to see how inspired all the swimmers were to meet and receive an autograph from 7x Olympic medalist Jason Lezak and Olympic swimmer Christine Jennings who spent the afternoon at the meet encouraging the swimmers to work hard, be disciplined and follow their dreams to go for the gold. Athletes can be such great role models for our children and so influential as they share their stories of how they achieved their goals and dreams.
Coincidentally, I also had the opportunity to meet the very inspiring 3x Winter Olympian, Tracy Evans within the same week. She is an amazing athlete and continues to do such inspiring work to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate children. Not every child in this world will have the opportunity to join a team sport, go to the league finals, state or national championship, let alone the Olympics. Nor will they have the opportunity to be sponsored or receive a scholarship to play a sport or even attend University. They will barely have an opportunity to attend school and have access to sports equipment.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to provide these opportunities to our children can certainly appreciate the importance and impact sports can have on the development of children worldwide. I’m delighted to share Tracy Evans’ experience and hope that some of you can help support her cause.
I founded Kids Play Int’l (KPI) in 2008 after returning from a life changing volunteer trip to Malawi, Africa. Despite the children’s difficult day to day life, I was so inspired by the outpouring of enthusiasm and eagerness the orphans showed to learn new sports. I recognized that there was a need to provide an opportunity with an engaging setting for these kids to learn outside of the classroom. This realization prompted me to create KPI Volunteer Service Trips and an after-school program that use Sports to Educate, Inform and PLAY! www.kidsplayintl.org.
In June 2009, I returned to Malawi with donated sports equipment and 11 volunteers. Each and every volunteer was excited to introduce the children to new sports, teach life skill lessons and set up a sports room for the orphan community. Today, KPI continues to organize annual volunteer trips to Malawi and Rwanda, Africa and looks to add new trips to other developing countries in the near future.
KPI has volunteer sites at orphanages and schools in Lilongwe, Malawi as well as outside Kigali, Rwanda, in the rural towns of Gitarama and Gatagara. KPI welcomes volunteers of all ages who are looking for a real “local” experience and are interested in sports, active play, health, fitness or education. Volunteering, even a short amount of time, can make a difference in the lives of these children and give your vacation purpose and meaning beyond imagination.