An orphaned girl in a Ugandan refugee camp. A former child soldier in the Sudan. When survival is the priority, something as simple and normal as play seems to be a luxury that these children can do w
An orphaned girl in a Ugandan refugee camp. A former child soldier in the Sudan. When survival is the priority, something as simple and normal as play seems to be a luxury that these children can do without. But Right to Play is changing that perception. Founded in 2000 by Norwegian Olympic medalist Johann Olav Koss, Right to Play begins at the grassroots community level, using sports and games to teach at-risk and underprivileged children around the world important values like self-esteem, empathy, and peace. Award winning author Gina McMurchy-Barber presents the history of this organization as well as the people who are involved in it - from the children, to their community leaders, to the celebrity athlete ambassadors who support them. Samples of Right to Play games are also included. "Children who were enemies are becoming friends, and sport is helping the process of reconciliation and helping the wounded and traumatized mend. Quite clearly, sport and all those who assist in this process will help us overcome disease, ignorance and poverty."
-Archbishop Desmond Tutu"The equipment you bring from Norway's children is the first time we have felt like human beings. You see us as more than just bodies to be kept alive or mouths to feed. It symbolizes there is a hope for a peaceful future and this is the first time my country's children will be able to play and to develop properly."
-President Isaias of Eritrea to Johann Koss
Right to Play's Athlete Ambassadors include:
Clara Hughes - Speedskating
Patrick Chan - Figure Skating
Catriona le May Doan - Speed Skating
Steve Young - Football
Gregg Zaun - Baseball
Alexander Ovechkin - Hockey
Wayne Gretzky - Hockey
Hayley Wickenheiser - Hockey
Joe Thornton - Hockey
View Biographical note
Gina McMurchy-Barber was the recipient of the Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. Her first novel, Reading the Bones, was nominated for the 2008/2009 Langley Book of the Year Award and 2009 Silver Birch Award. Her second YA novel, Free as a Bird, was a finalist for the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature (Text) in 2010.
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"One of the book's greatest strengths is McMurchy-Barber's inclusion of true stories about specific children in various countries and how, despite their predicament, these children are inspired to help other kids. Their world and daily lives are so vastly different from those in Canada, and McMurchy-Barber tells their stories with honesty and compassion. . . Color photographs, all suitably labeled, enhance the text. . ."Ultimately, this well-written and researched book reminds us that we are all part of the global village and responsible for each other. Hopefully, reading When Children Play
will spur some readers to social action." Highly Recommended.
— CM Magazine
"With its well-organized format and text that informs as well as personalizes the story of Right to Play, Gina McMurchy-Barber's When Children Play hits all the marks... By telling the stories of children and adults, from Uganda to Thailand and Mali and Toronto, both volunteers and game participants, from refugee camps to impoverished communities to those willing to extend their help, Gina McMurchy-Barber provides a global approach to the story-telling of When Children Play. Right to Play is not about children who need relief and aid. It's about everyone caring enough about everyone else to improve their lives. Help others and you help yourself. And, with the inclusion of instructions for games to try, like Batter Up and Tunnel, When Children Play becomes less of an educational non-fiction book and more an intermutual one that will engage readers and inspire them to play."
— CanLit for Little Canadians
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On CCBC's Best Books for Kids and Teens list, 2013