Olympian and Laureus World Sports Award Sportswoman of the Year Missy Franklin joined Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA and Playworks today to inspire young people in California.
Ten Junior Coaches, youth leaders from Playworks at Bayview Elementary School in San Pablo, taught Franklin some of the “inclusion” games they play with their peers at recess.
Inclusion on the playground has proven to be an important factor in reducing bullying in and out of school.
"Sports can be an escape when life is hard or challenging. It can be a safe place when things are rough," said Missy.
This is especially important in nearby areas like Oakland, Richmond and San Pablo where gun violence is rampant. For example, in Oakland homicide is the leading cause of death among young people. From 2009 to 2013, 31 Oakland public school students aged 11-19 were killed across the city – the majority by gunfire. This is why there is a crucial need kids to have access to safe spaces like playgrounds and mentors like Playworks coaches.
Playworks and Laureus USA are trying to offer solutions to challenges such as gun violence of the community through their support for sport and play.
Playworks has been active in the Bay Area for 18 years and Laureus USA, in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz USA, is celebrating its second anniversary working in this community.
Having seen the work being carried out, Franklin said,
"Participating in sports sets you up for the rest of your life. You develop habits in sports that you will be able to use in school as well as the rest of your life. I have learned so much from participating in sports and from my coaches and teammates."
Many of the lessons she learned through her swimming coaches over the years can be learned via Playworks coaches who teach the values of teamwork, personal growth, dedication, and achieving goals.
"Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is an incredible organisation. I know a lot of athletes that want to work with kids and communities and Laureus offers that chance. The foundation brings groups together which collectively can have an incredible influence on kids and communities,” said Franklin.