Usually when we post a blog it is with reference to a western understanding of childhood and playfulness. Capturing hard evidence of free play’s benefits can be hard, though. Much of it is subtle and intangible, with it filtering through in the child’s character as they mature. Without doubt, the impact of creative free play on character is one of its most profound benefits. As psychologist Peter Gray says:
“We must accept play’s triviality in order to realise its profundity”. (Free to Learn)
Football is not just a game in Jharkhand
So for a change, today’s blog is looking at how play has significantly affected lives of children in Jharkhand, rural India, by making a real and tangible impact on the lives and futures for lower caste girls. Yuwa is an organisation that uses football programmes as a platform to help girls shape their future. It encourages them to continue with school, and by creating a strong sense of team spirit, determination and support. In Jharkand, the odds are against lower caste girls. There is an 80% drop-out rate in high school; 100,000 girls are trafficked every year; an estimated 50% of girls married are child brides; and only 56% of girls can read or write.
Education is the best protection against child marriage in Jharkard.
When a girl joins a Yuwa football team, she also joins Yuwa’s academic bridge program. This includes dynamic workshops about the importance of education, assistance transferring to better schools, remedial math and science classes, daily English classes, an intensive summer school, personal tutoring, and computer classes.
Girls in high school are not married and Yuwa girls, in particular, not only have their formal education nurtured but also benefit from the strong team bonds got from playing football. That help gives them a sense of empowerment, grit, ambition and social confidence. Playing football delivers a strong sense of team spirit that is very important to these girls – not only with the development of personal attributes but also in a very real sense with the practical support and encouragement they get from each other as a group.
In a world where the importance of play can be trivialised, Yuwa provides a beautiful and inspiring example of children learning through play and the importance of character in the development of children. For further information please visit YUWA. You can also read about Kids insatiable need to learn here.