Youth Raising Global Awareness of How Sports can Minimize Dangers Leading Kids to Seek Asylum in U.S.

On April 2, young people in Guatemala City will host an event as part of a global awareness campaign for how sports can help minimize dangers confronting youth who seek asylum in the U.S. The celebration of International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is a collaborative effort led by Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. and its Guatemala sister agency, Siembra Bien, with support from partner affiliates in Australia, Ireland, and Sierra Leone.

Working with youth justice, child welfare and other U.S. systems, YAP provides community-based alternatives to youth incarceration and out-of-home placement in 30 states and the District of Columbia. The U.S.-based nonprofit consults with its global partner agencies on services in their communities that provide youth and family support to reduce crime and family separation, with the goal of keeping young people safely home. As part of its mediation and peacebuilding work with gang-affiliated and other young people in Guatemala City’s notorious Zona 18, Siembra Bien has implemented YAP’s innovative Street Soccer Leadership training model.

COVID-19–safe street soccer and other sports and physical events will highlight the April 2 International Day of Sport for Development and Peace Primer Festival de Día Internacional del Deporte Paz y Desarrollo/First Festival of Sport, Peace and Development in Guatemala City. The event will be co-hosted virtually by young social mediators who work with Siembra Bien and members of YAP community partner organization, Trenton, New Jersey-based Spanish Church of God. The event begins at 10 AM EDT, with the Siembra Bien social mediators challenging the New Jersey youth to a TikTok dance off.

YAP’s celebration of International Day of Sports for Development and Peace is part of YAP Global Youth Voices, launched in August 2020 by YAP International. “The YAP Global Youth Voices team has identified ‘Solidarity through Sports’ as our guiding theme as we encourage our program participants and their families and communities to move for physical health and wellbeing and to keep going strong mentally through the pandemic and rebuilding after it,” said YAP International Director Diana Matteson. “A significant part of our work this year will be supporting Siembra Bien to address the high levels of violence that exist in their Guatemala City neighborhood Zona 18 and the young social mediators’ work to develop leaders to strengthen their communities, and advocate for themselves and their neighbors.”

More TikTok challenges happen on Saturday, April 3, with International Day of Sport for Development and Peace events hosted by YAP Australia, YAP Ireland, and -- as part of its soccer tournament the same day -- YAP Sierra Leone. YAP asks International Day of Sport for Development and Peace campaign social media supporters to include #YAPGYV; #YAPGuatemalaLove; and #SolidarityThroughSport in their social media hashtags.

As part of their monthlong awareness activities, the YAP global partners will participate in the April 6 UN General Assembly Day of Sport for Development and Peace virtual events. Among YAP’s awareness activities, the global partners will compile and share via social media a slideshow of their International Day of Sport for Development and Peace endeavors.

Learn more about YAP’s global programs and how you can support the work at yapinc.org/International.


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