Look for the cause behind many social ills and you will find a common thread: substance abuse. In fact, the abuse of alcohol and drugs is a contributing factor to the problems of gangs, crime and domestic violence.
The JAG Foundation works with children in high-risk communities, as Alex Corin explains. “For the most part, being accepted into a gang or taking drugs is considered a part of a natural life-path, and children perceive that there is no alternative.”
The Foundation uses sport and play as a catalyst for change, exposing children in high-risk communities to positive activities. “Our mentoring, coaching, knowledge and organised sport and play programmes, target the issues of alcohol, drugs and gangsterism head-on by showing children the real and attainable opportunity of an alternative life path, that can give them hope,” adds Alex.
Moving, running, playing, passing, all contribute to creating a healthy mind for these children to learn and absorb the benefit of a positive alternate life path. Sport and play have many values which ingrain in young minds merely by playing and being part of a team, such as respect, discipline, tolerance, and dedication, just to name a few.These learned values then in turn build self-esteem, hope, and belief.
Another innovative programme is JAGBullyProof, which aims to tackle the issue of bullying by empowering victims of bullying to stand up against the behaviour rather than by degrading the bully. “We teach children about self-respect, learning tolerance, asking for help, and feeling safe again – stop standing by and start standing up,” explains Alex.
Taking back power from bullies is empowering in itself and helps reinforce confidence and self-esteem.
By dealing with the problem of bullying and illustrating the effects of bullying, children develop a greater sense of empathy for those that are bullied. “We use play games to illustrate the principles that we are trying to teach, to make it real. By understanding what it feels like to be left out, children start to understand what they are doing to others.”
This is Alex’s story of help. To find out how you can help: