The UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan (MEXT) held the 8th Youth Leadership Camp (YLC) in Tokyo.
On 22 January, interns from UNIC Tokyo attended the public viewing day in order to interview participants as well as the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, Mr. Wilfried Lemke, for a series of special featured stories to be uploaded on UNIC’s website as well as its Facebook page.
Thirty young women and men aged 18 to 25 from Asia and Israel, are taking part in this edition of the camp. The purpose of the UNOSDP YLC is to bring together young community leaders in the field of sport for development and peace and provide them with additional theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Upon their return to their home countries, participants would be able to further improve the conditions in their own communities.
Special Adviser Lemke is the creator of the YLC. “I am very proud of this series of camps. I had the idea to launch this camp after I visited Sub-Saharan Africa where I met youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, often in connection with impairment, who were nevertheless very involved in their communities. I want to change their lives through the camp and support them in being role models for others. That is the main idea behind the YLC,” said Mr. Lemke, adding that he endeavors to keep in touch with the individual participants after the camp, too.
“Sport has the power to change the world,” Mr. Lemke is convinced. Dor Shaty, a camp participant representing the Israeli NPO Budo for Peace, agrees. “Seeing the positive effects that practicing martial arts has on children is amazing!” he states, adding that he endeavors to strengthen the personalities of the children he works with and to teach them virtues such as tolerance through these sports. Shaty especially appreciated learning about how to adapt martial arts for teaching them to persons with disabilities, adding “I know that they, too, can practice martial arts”.
One of the participants, Ms. Rajni Jha, is an international para-swimming champion from India. Ms. Jha has polio in her right leg. “I do not feel like I am disabled, and I want to help others, especially girls. I started coaching two years ago, with only eight students and today I coach a hundred and twenty. In India, people with disabilities often remain excluded from sport but I want to encourage them to never lose hope and to keep on doing sports, because they can. Everyone has a power!” said the inspiring Ms. Jha.
The Tokyo camp ended on Thursday 30 January. Four more editions of the YLC are planned for 2014, starting in Berlin and followed by Florida, Gwangju and Stockholm.