The Power of Sports for Development of Peace: An Interview with Janine Thornhill
Sport can have a positive influence on the advancement of human rights as well as social and economic development and has been recognized by the United Nations as an enabler of sustainable development. Given its reach, popularity and foundation of positive values, sport can contribute to the United Nations’ objectives, including for development and peace. In honour of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on 6 April 2017, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace (CYSDP) Working Group, Janine Thornhill, provided her views on the important role sport plays in the development of young people.
Question: Please tell us about your work in the domain and what stimulated your interest in this area in particular?
Janine Thornhill: I have been involved in sport all my life; hence the reason sport is my passion. I started swimming at the age of 3 years old and quickly progressed in the sport from entry level to competitive level. Not only did sport provide a platform for me to challenge myself and my talent in the water, but it also contributed to my overall physical, psychological and social development. I saw the positive attributes that sport contributed to my development and the life skills that have stuck with me to this day. It was these experiences that prompted me to pursue my academic studies in Sport Management and Sport for Development.
In this field, I have worked at the administrative level, contributing to the implementation, execution, monitoring, and evaluation of Sport for Development and Peace initiatives across the Caribbean region. As chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace (CYSDP) Working Group, together with my team, I have contributed towards raising the profile of Sport for Development and Peace in Commonwealth nations and providing recommendations to Commonwealth Sport Ministers about youth development policies. The CYSDP Working Group saw the need for young people to have a voice and continues to harness the opportunity to influence decision-makers and represent the many young people that make up our society.
Question: How does sport contribute to development and peace among young people?
Janine Thornhill: Besides providing a basis for healthy living, the unique attributes of sport also capture the interest of young people and act as a global platform for social inclusion. Through my involvement in sport, I have experienced first-hand the level of discipline, focus and responsibility that was instilled in my peers and I. But at the same time, it is much more than that. Sport taught me things about myself physically, mentally and emotionally that could not be taught any other way. Sport has allowed me to see direct results of my hard work and dedication. When I competed, whether it was at local or international competitions, I always knew that I had a team of young people supporting and cheering me on, and in turn, I felt the need to support and cheer them on too. Through these experiences, my teammates have grown to be my best friends.
In fact, sport teaches you how to work cohesively with others, to push yourself to what you thought was your “limit” and then surpass that limit. Character building is a huge part of all of the sports that I have played and they have turned me into the person that I am today. However, the main reason that I have participated and continue to participate in sports is actually for the team bond. I have never experienced such camaraderie with anyone as deep and true as my swimming team. When you put your team uniform on and step on the field of play, there is such a strong sense of being part of the team and so much tradition to uphold. In addition, sport can definitely contribute to youth development by giving young people a positive identity, feelings of empowerment and help youth acquire life-long skills such as leadership, teamwork and self-governance.
Question: What are some of your accomplishments in your work to date and what would be your goals going forward?
Janine Thornhill: Some of my major accomplishments to date include being nominated Chairperson of the CYSDP Working Group and becoming the youth representative on the Commonwealth Advisory Body on Sport (CABOS). I participated in many Sport for Development and Peace forums such as the recently held Commonwealth Sport Policy Expert Roundtable and was a panellist at the Commonwealth 2nd Debate on Sport and Sustainable Development (in commemoration of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2017). I also contributed towards the publication of the CYSDP Youth Advocacy Toolkit and utilized this resource to facilitate Sport for Development and Peace workshops across my country, Trinidad and Tobago.
Moving forward, my goal is to expand CYSDP from a Working Group to a wider Network across the Commonwealth, bridging the gap between the grassroots level and policy level. In addition, as we observed the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on April 6, 2017, through CYSDP’s platform, I encouraged Governments to consider establishing roles and responsibilities for youth leaders in youth development policy, including dedicated positions on decision-making bodies as well as creating platforms to open conversations on Sport and Sustainable Development with young athletes, coaches and officials.
Question: How do you see the work of institutions/organizations on sport for development and peace aiding the youth development process? What resources are available to young people from these institutions/organizations?
Janine Thornhill: I think the work of local, regional and international institutions on sport for development and peace has increased considerably. Dozens of organizations have tapped into the power of sport for development and peace. While there is a greater need for further collaboration between the international levels of Sport for Development and Peace and practitioners at the local levels, institutional work has proven to enhance development and peace among young people through sport. Through many organizations, young people have access to research, funding and grants, platforms for networking, practical manuals and toolkits, mentorship, and operational support.
Question: How can youth get involved in sport for greater development and peace in their communities as well as at the regional and international level?
Janine Thornhill: I urge young people to get involved through active participation in any sport whether through playing the game or volunteering as a coach or official, and in Sport for Development and Peace youth-led groups that promote and advocate for best practices in sport. Young people can get started by getting involved in their community clubs, youth groups, youth councils, as well as joining platforms for collaboration and critical influence such as the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace Working Group. In communities where there are no Sport for Development and Peace initiatives, I encourage young people to design and implement their own programs and initiatives.
In addition, I strongly encourage young people to position themselves at the decision-making level, in order to provide input into policies and systems designed for youth development through sport. It is important that they are represented at the table of policy design and implementation. Platforms such as these provide young people with the opportunity to make a significant contribution toward the positive movement of Sport for Development and Peace.
About Janine Thornhill: Janine Thornhill (@thornhilljanine) is the current Chair of the Commonwealth’s leading youth network promoting the use of sport as a tool for achieving development objectives, particularly in youth development. Janine has been a member of the CYSDP Working Group since 2014 and played a key role in the development of the CYSDP Youth Advocacy Toolkit, a tool to assist young leaders across the Commonwealth to advocate for Sport for Development and Peace approaches. A former competitive swimmer, Janine also works for Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs as a Facility Manager of a Community Recreational Facility, where she encourages young people to actively participate in swimming programs designed to develop youth holistically.
UNAOC: Call for Applications for the 2017 edition of the Fellowship Program
The UNOAC Fellowship Program aims at challenging stereotypes and at fostering cross-cultural collaboration between young civil society leaders from different faiths and cultures. In 2017, the Fellowship Program focuses on “The role of civil society and media in combatting hatred and fostering inclusion”. Candidates must be between 25 and 35 years old, from Europe, North America or the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and able to demonstrate strong interest in intercultural dialogue and professional achievements in the fields of media and/or civil society. The deadline to apply is Sunday, 21 May 2017 at 11:59pm EST. More
UNAOC and IOM: PLURAL+ 2017 Youth Video Festival – Call for Entries
The PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival invites the world’s youth to submit dynamic and forward-thinking videos focusing on themes of migration, diversity, social inclusion, and against xenophobia. The festival is organized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with many partners. The International Jury award winners will be invited to New York for the 2017 Awards Ceremony and there are many other exciting prizes and professional opportunities. The deadline to submit videos is 4 June 2017. More
UNAOC: The Intercultural Innovation Award: Call for Applications Now Open!
The Intercultural Innovation Award, a partnership between the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the BMW Group, searches for innovative and sustainable projects around the world that encourages dialogue and cooperation among people from different cultural backgrounds. Ten organizations with potential for expansion and replication will be awarded funding and strategic support. The awardees will be announced at the Intercultural Innovation Awards Ceremony, and highlights from last year can be viewed here). Deadline for applications is 31 May 2017, 5 pm EST. More
DESA: Side Event to Promote Youth Development to Achieve the 2030 Agenda
A joint side event was held on 27 April 2017 by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), in the framework of the Sixteenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). The event, entitled “Promoting Youth Development to Achieve the 2030 Agenda”, aimed to assess the current situation of indigenous youth, took stock of the progress made and remaining challenges, and analysed the best way forward while leaving no indigenous youth behind. It featured indigenous youth voices from Asia, Artic, Latin America and the Pacific to promote indigenous youth participation as integral stakeholders of decision-making processes at local, national and global levels. The side event also focused on latest data and new issue briefs prepared by DESA on education and health. More
ILO: ONE World No Hunger. Future of the Rural World conference, Berlin, 27-28 April 2017
The ILO organized an expert panel session on Decent Jobs for Youth in the Rural Economy at the “ONE WORLD – No Hunger. Future of the Rural World” conference, in Berlin on 27-28 April 2017. The session was organized in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It provided a platform to discuss initiatives to promote decent jobs for youth in the rural economy in the context of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth.
Kazi Nje Nje, which literally means “Jobs out there ready to grab”, was part of a five-year ILO Youth Entrepreneurship Facility (YEF) initiative in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Its main purpose was to foster entrepreneurship, create decent jobs and provide greater opportunities for young men and women through education, skills development and access to financing. The Kazi Nje Nje programme led to the creation of 51,489 businesses translating into 28,834 jobs in industries such as retail, services, manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing. More
UNCDF: Join the #BankTheYouth Campaign! Smart Policies for Youth Financial Accesst
UNCDF, in partnership with Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI), has embarked on a new and exciting advocacy campaign entitled “#BankTheYouth”. This campaign seeks to increase access to responsible, accessible and affordable financial services for youth. To date, UNCDF has sponsored launch events in seven countries across Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda). The Campaign also seeks the support of Impact Champions to promote and disseminate Campaign’s messages. To learn more/be part of the campaign, click here!
UNDP: Youth4Peace Online Consultations
The first series of Youth4Peace online consultations – which aims to gather inputs by young people and other stakeholders on a broad range of topics connected to the role of young people in sustaining peace, and the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security – has been launched. Topics range from “the role of young people in preventing violent extremism” and “the role of education in peacebuilding” to “gendered dynamics of youth peacebuilding”. Make sure to take part! More
UNDP: Joint E-Discussion – Youth Political Participation
Young people are often excluded or overlooked as political candidates. Politics is typically regarded as a space for politically experienced men. While women are often disadvantaged, young people are systematically marginalized because of their age, limited opportunities and projected lack of experience. This e-Discussion, co-convened by iKNOW Politics and UNDP4Youth, invites students, young parliamentarians, political party and social movement activists, civil society and youth movement representatives as well as academia, government and international organizations representatives to contribute with their experiences. More
UNEP and UNESCO YouthXchange Training Kit and other resources available at the Global Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Clearinghouse
Did you know more than half of the global population growth between 2015 and 2050 is expected to take place in Africa? This growth, along with the growing consumption, puts immense pressure on our natural resources and the ecological balance of the planet. UNEP and UNESCO YouthXchange Training Kit on Responsible Consumption for Africa is the first regional adaptation of YouthXchange and reflects the need for resource efficiency in all aspects of our lifestyles- from what we eat, how we travel, to how we spend our leisure time- and empowers African youth to put theory into practice. Other excellent resources, including for youth, are available on the same platform, the Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Clearinghouse, which is an online hub to learn, share and act on SCP.
UN-Habitat: António Guterres visits UN-Habitat’s Mathare One Stop Centre
In March 2017, on his first visit to Kenya as Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres visited a community space in Mathare, home to approximately 800,000 people and Nairobi’s oldest slum, to meet members of the community benefiting from UN programmes and partnerships. The visit coincided with International Women’s Day, the theme of which was “Women in the changing world of work”. More
UNICEF: Providing Adolescents and Youth with options in Somalia
In the State capital of Garowe, adolescents are busy studying- gaining skills that they hope will help provide them an alternative to a livelihood pursuing piracy which many other youth in Puntland have been forced into. At the UNICEF supported Garowe Vocational Training Centre (VTC), over 100 adolescents and youth are enrolled at the vocational training centre- gaining knowledge and learning skills that are crucial to the stabilization and development of their community. More
UN-Habitat: Football Pitch Make-Over through Design Thinking
Many things were happening in Mlango Kubwa’s football pitch in March 2017! Mlango Kubwa is a ward in the Mathare informal settlement in Kenya. Mathare has approximately 500,000 residents, while Mango Kubwa itself has approximately 50,000 residents, 70% of which are 24 years old and under. After its inauguration by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, it became the centrepiece of Design Thinking workshop organized to give it a sustainable make-over. More
Youth in Action
Youth for Public Transport (Y4PT): The First Y4PT Global Transport Hackathon
In the framework of the 62nd UITP Global Public Transport Summit— the world’s oldest and largest sustainable transport event series— from 15 to 17 May 2017, in Montreal, Canada, hackers from more than 20 major cities, where local hackathons were previously held, will gather at the world’s first ever global transport hackathon. The hackathon aims to unveil the best ground-breaking urban mobility solutions by employing information and communication technologies (ICT) in an ingenious way. More