The initiative that harnesses the power of sport to change the lives of children

The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, but the lockdown and school closures have been especially hard on many children.

In Riga, the Latvian capital, an initiative called ‘Risk Free’ aims to introduce a host of sporting activities, such as those known as Ghetto Games, which help young people bounce back.

Besides the obvious physical and mental health benefits, the initiative’s street culture aims to attract and support young people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

Antons Semeņaks, is the event organizer for Ghetto Games,

“Ghetto Games is a youth movement. It’s a platform for young people, where to develop physically and morally, where they can spend their free time doing different physical activities, basketball, floorball, football, whatever, it’s a perfect place for young people!

Although Ghetto Games is an individual community initiative, it is part of a larger European Union project, called ‘Risk-Free’, which helps communities in many ways, harnessing sport to transform the lives of young people. for the best. For example, in Latvia’s second largest city, Daugavpils, the Risk-Free project has set up exercise equipment in several areas.

Those behind Risk-Free say it has been a catalyst for positive social change. The project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The money helped transform 36 indoor and outdoor venues in Latvia and Lithuania.

In addition to infrastructure, the funding also provided specialized sports training for children, as well as sports equipment. Improving local facilities, many of which are in deprived areas, and then combining this with training and events like the Ghetto Games – can, organizers say, go a long way in putting young people on the right track, making a positive difference , both for themselves and their communities.

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