In many of the schools that attend our program, sports and girls didn’t quite go together.

Irrational ideas, such as that girls should not play soccer because that would negatively affect their fertility were common. Physical education for girls often suffers from optional status with many preferring not to take part. Especially for girls, enjoying meaningful education has a great spillover effect. Educated girls that learn the basic foundational skills necessary to lead productive and healthy lives tend to make choices that may benefit themselves and likely future generations of children.

One of our teachers reported:

“There has been moral change: boys and girls play together harmoniously without abusing each other. Before the introduction of Join for Joy, boys used to undermine girls, bullying them, abusing them. But as of now, this has changed so there is gender balance among learners.”

Our core principle is: Leading by example. We train the teachers to become gender aware. All teams of teachers have an equal number of female and male teachers. During our training sessions the teachers are trained to become role models in sports and play for their students. The teachers learn how to respond in an inclusive way to the existing diversity, both in gender and in physical capacity of the different students. The playful ways in which the teachers are taught how to empower boys and girls contributes to the mental and physical health of these children and to their motivation to stay in school.

Time to play for boys and girls in Uganda.