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Olympic And Paralympic Community Celebrates International Day Of Sport For Development And Peace

By Karen Price | April 06, 2015, 12:16 p.m. (ET)

Monday marks the second annual International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, created by the United Nations General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to celebrate and highlight the power of sport for positive social change as well as the organizations worldwide using sport and physical activity as tools for community development, health, empowerment and unity.

“There are so many organizations doing their own things and doing good work all over the world, but this is a big unifier that everyone can get behind,” said two-time U.S. Paralympic soccer player Eli Wolff, who has been involved with coordination for the IDSDP and manages the IDSDP Facebook and Twitter accounts. “On a daily basis you hear people talk about the power of sport. Everyone in life seems to have a power of sport story and how it’s had an impact on them. I’ve heard so many people all over the world say they’re excited about this day and how they can use it in a lot of different ways.”

In passing the resolution declaring April 6 the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “Sport has become a world language, a common denominator that breaks down all the walls, all the barriers. It is a worldwide industry whose practices can have widespread impact. Most of all, it is a powerful tool for progress and for development.”

In a specially recorded video message for the 2015 celebration, UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace Wilfried Lemke called on governments, NGOs, development agencies and international, national and local organizations to continue to use sport in policies and programs relating to education, health, development and peace. He also encouraged the continuation of partnerships working toward the ongoing goals of development and peace.

“It has been through systematic cooperation that we’ve been able to make sport and physical activity accessible and inclusive to millions of people of all ages and abilities worldwide,” he said. “Let us work together to make the most use of the great potential that sport has for advancing positive social change all over the world and let us celebrate this International Day of Sport for Development and Peace by hosting activities in our countries, cities and communities to commemorate the great work that has been accomplished globally and on a daily basis in improving the lives of many people all over the world.”

The IOC supports the initiative, which complements its flagship event, Olympic Day, on June 23.

Much of the worldwide support for the IDSDP is shared through social media using the hashtags #sport4betterworld and #idsdp2015. The largest campaign celebrating the day is the White Card Campaign. Using the hashtag #WhiteCard, athletes and others across the world are posting photographs of themselves holding white cards as a symbol of peace and sport.

The United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace held a video contest to mark the day, and the top 10 entries are available on YouTube.

Anita DeFrantz returns to training for the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace .
In Rio de Janeiro, site of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, several IOC board members and Olympians recently returned to their respective sports to teach area youth in recognition of the day. Anita DeFrantz, who captained the bronze medal-winning U.S. rowing team at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, taught a master class to the Brazilian Under-20 rowing team at the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, site of the 2016 rowing events. DeFrantz became the first female vice president of the IOC in 1997.

Sergey Bubka, who won the gold medal in pole vault at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, and Nawal El Moutawakel, an Olympic champion hurdler at the 1984 Games, spoke to athletes at the Brazilian Naval School about sport as a tool for both social and personal change.

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has endorsed a community initiative to hold 3x3 basketball events all over the world on April 6. The project is called #WhoDaresWins.

The International Surfing Association is encouraging people to share media and photos of how they use surfing as a catalyst for social change, development and peace using the hashtags #sport4betterworld and #surf4betterworld.

A full list of activities going on across the world can be found on the website April6.org.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.