As America celebrates Red Nose Day 2020, Laureus Sport for Good Chief Executive Adam Fraser reflects on our partnership with Comic Relief USA and the power of innovation as the world reacts to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented challenge for the Sport for Development sector, for international development and for society as a whole. Necessity being the mother of invention, though, it has also driven a huge amount of innovation and effort to adjust course and support those most in need. In sport we have seen it in everything from Premier League players donating to the National Health Service, to Laureus Ambassador Jan Frodeno’s ‘triathlon at home’, in which he completed a full Ironman without leaving his property to raise more than $200,000 for charity. We have seen the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 team create ‘CPAP’ breathing aids to keep patients out of intensive care, and even seen Super Bowl winners return to the front lines of healthcare, with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of the Kansas City Chiefs putting his degree in medicine to work in his hometown of Montreal.
On the front lines of Sport for Development, we have seen our partners innovate in a huge number of ways to reach those children and young people who are most in need and at risk – from delivering programmes online to taking a host of physical measures to ensure that the young people they serve remain safe and supported.
And alongside all of that, those raising funds for the international development space have also had to innovate – from the 2.6 Challenge in the UK to Strava’s Run 5 Donate 5 Nominate 5 initiative in a number of countries around the world.
On Thursday May 21st, it is the turn of Red Nose Day to break new ground in the digital space as Comic Relief US looks to continue its incredible fundraising efforts of the last five years in today’s altered reality. The organisation, which has raised over $260 million in the past five years, has created a ‘digital nose’ to recognise its fundraisers, partnered with brands from TikTok to ebay to unlock new audiences and will deliver its annual night of television on Thursday evening on NBC with ambitions of raising as much funding as ever. From Laureus Sport for Good’s perspective, that news is hugely important, since Comic Relief US has been a major partner in supporting Sport for Development programming in the USA and around the world since its inception – supporting programs in New York to Nairobi and Atlanta to Afghanistan in their work to keep young people safe, healthy and educated through the power of sport.
In the midst of this pandemic, we at Laureus Sport for Good believe that the world – from the communities we serve to our own workplaces and relationships – is becoming more empathetic. People realise how important and crucial real, trusting and caring relationships are. In our work at Laureus, using the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage, relationships are even more critical. For the world’s most vulnerable youth, the impactful work of our partners is not about basketball coaching, or soccer skills. It is grounded in the fundamental understanding of the impact that a positive role model – a coach – can have on a kid, and what being part of a team feels like, and what positive development outcomes can be achieved through targeted and innovative programming. Some of these strong relationships have been stripped away from all of us by the current situation, but almost all of them has been stripped away from those most at risk. But, working in partnership, we can help communities get through these challenges and emerge stronger than ever.
On our part, as we head towards a new normal with a determination to build back better, we will work to make sure additional focus, time and purpose is directed towards the world's most vulnerable youth – to make sure they all are seen, heard and believed in in ways that perhaps they haven't always been in society before. We are proud that our partnership with Red Nose Day will help us to fulfil those goals.