One year on from the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Pam and six months on from Tropical Cyclone Winston, the Just Play Emergency Programme has been shortlisted for the Beyond Sport Innovation award in recognition of the work in both Vanuatu and Fiji.
Recognising the important role that sport can play in supporting the psychosocial recovery of children after an emergency, this child-centred programme, developed by the Oceania Football Confederation and UNICEF, is being used to disseminate critical messages and support the emotional recovery of children.
OFC President David Chung said, “To once again see the hard work of all those involved in the Just Play Programme, from content developers to coordinators to volunteers on the ground, recognised for the important contribution they are making to children’s lives is amazing.
“Our objective with this programme was always to make a difference in the lives of children across the Pacific and to be there for them providing a programme that will add a little bit of joy to their lives during such a difficult and trying time is very important to us as an organisation, and as humans.”
Capitalising on the existing Just Play programme platform, which targets children aged 6-16 years in 11-Pacific Island countries, the programme was able to mobilize and leverage an existing network of Coordinators, teachers and volunteers to support the creation of an emergency based programme.
Dr Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative said, “Following any disaster, children are especially vulnerable. For example, following Cyclone Winston that hit Fiji in February, some 120,000 children were affected.
“UNICEF continues to support governments, in collaboration with key partners, in ensuring that major issues relating to emotional wellbeing of children are prioritized and that these are addressed early on.
“The Just Play Emergency programme is an example of some of our best practices in the Pacific region where children are able to re-engage in activities through sport following a disaster.
“This helps them recover from the fear, stress and uncertainty caused by emergencies, and in the process ensures that children are able to be safe, healthy and thrive.”
Once a year the Beyond Sport Awards, recognise the best sport for development programmes and projects from around the world, for their use of sport as a vehicle to support positive social change.
The Summit and Awards is the largest global event convening the world of sport for social change.
The Just Play Emergency Programme, shortlisted as one of the Best Innovations of 2016 which recognises a programme or project that is truly innovative in their approach, has been selected as one of the 250 entries, from 55 different countries, representing over 64 sport codes.
“After seven years building the Just Play Programme in the Pacific, we are now ready to face any emergency situation and can use the Just Play network to reach children affected by a natural disaster anywhere in our region,” said Franck Castillo, Head of Social Responsibility and International Relations with the Oceania Football Confederation.
“We are very honored to be shortlisted for this prestigious award and recognise that it is showcasing the hard work of our Just Play teams on the ground delivering these programmes in difficult situations.
“Our success however would not have been possible without the tremendous support of our partners, UNICEF, the Australian and New Zealand Governments, the UEFA Foundation for Children and the Football Federation of Australia.”
The Just Play Emergency Programme was delivered in partnership with the Vanuatu Football Federation, Fiji Football Association, the Australian and New Zealand Governments, the UEFA Foundation for Children and UNICEF.
Winners of the Beyond Sport Awards will be announced at the Summit and Awards Ceremony in London, England on October 20, 2016.