Laureus Sport for Good, the leading global Sport for Development Foundation, has been recognised in a new World Health Organisation (WHO) public health brief, which cites the organisation’s Sport for Good Cities community aid model as part of international health policy for the very first time.
The brief comes seven years after Laureus launched its initial Model Cities programme in New Orleans during 2014.
It has since been rolled out in a number of other major cities including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, London, Paris, New Delhi, and Hong Kong.
The programme – which is still known in some locations as Model City but is taking on the Sport for Good Cities name as part of its global rollout – takes an innovative ‘bottom-up’ approach to provide financial support and resources to some of the world’s most-deprived inner-city communities, building on grassroots coalitions of nonprofit, private, government, and sporting bodies working at a local level to make a real impact on citizens lives.
Adam Fraser, Chief Executive of Laureus Sport for Good, said: “The World Health Organization’s recognition of Laureus, our Sport for Good Cities and the role of the Sport for Development sector in general marks a huge opportunity to influence social reform through the power of sport and connect private and government funding with community leaders and agents of change in underserved communities around the world.
“Considering that an estimated 2.5 billion more people and more than two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050, it has never been more important to have a model that aims to help align the goals of public health policy and our local coalitions at a hyper-local level, with a focus on listening to local leaders and youth who understand the needs of their communities better than anyone.”
Utilising its international connections through the power of sport, Laureus is playing an important role in bringing stakeholders together; aligning the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and ESG and Corporate Social Responsible (CSR) targets from the world of business with the social issues being faced by underserved communities.
Critically, it aims to give a voice to local leaders and youth to decide how that funding will be best spent.
Whereas in the past, the social impact model has most often seen outside forces, including in sport, predetermine how aid should be invested and what should be done with it, Laureus is committed to innovating the way it connects local governments and its Global Partners and other funders with local communities in cities around the world to ensure more equitable outcomes.
Laureus Academy Member and the first Arab, African and Muslim woman to win gold at the Olympic Games, Nawal El Moutakawel, said: “Sport has the ability to transform not only lives but societies.
This is why the Sport for Good Cities initiative is so important, as it directly benefits entire communities.
The recognition that Laureus has received from the World Health Organization is not only well-deserved but presents an opportunity to further bring together local stakeholders, and empower them to create long-lasting change.
“Sport changed my life, so I want to help change and inspire others. Becoming the first Moroccan, African and Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold medal enabled me to give hope to others to help highlight what is possible. That gold medal put me in a position to help push for systemic change.”
The Sport for Good Cities model has connected several of the world’s most influential organisation with city-based neighbourhoods. Some key takeaways include:
- Engagement with 20 per cent of youth in Chicago since launching Sport for Good Chicago in 2017, helping local stakeholders support more than 80,000 young people;
- Facilitation of a public-private-nonprofit partnership between Laureus, US-based sportwear giant Nike and the London Mayor’s office, which has seen investment delivered to some of London’s most underserved areas;
- Opportunity to strengthen legacy projects for major sporting events and to optimise funding distribution throughout host cities, including Paris 2024 and LA 2028
Laureus Academy Member and four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson, said: “As the great man Nelson Mandela once said; ‘Sport has the power to change the world.’
His words could not have been more accurate back in 2000, but they still resonate today.
“I have seen first-hand young people growing up with no direction, purpose or support.
The WHO itself states that ‘Physical activity has significant health benefits for hearts, bodies and minds.
It’s recommended across the world that young people regularly partake in sports activities to support their mental and physical wellbeing, yet many cultures, societies and communities haven’t been prepared and positioned to support this.
“Over the past seven or so years, hundreds of thousands of young people across the globe have benefitted from the power of sport, as a direct result of the work Laureus is doing through its Sport for Good City programme.
Now that’s a lot of people in a lot of cities – but there is a long way still to go to reach everyone who needs support. So, I hope this can continue to drive powerful impact.”
Visit laureus.com for more information.