Meeting in the Middle: Ray United FC in Oyam

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So many young people in Oyam district are faced with challenges ranging from teenage pregnancies, school dropouts, public health challenges including preventable diseases and complicated illnesses like HIV/AIDS and cancers. If you chose to help young people in such a community, where would you start from? How would you help? Well, Ray United FC in
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So many young people in Oyam district are faced with challenges ranging from teenage pregnancies, school dropouts, public health challenges including preventable diseases and complicated illnesses like HIV/AIDS and cancers. If you chose to help young people in such a community, where would you start from? How would you help? Well, Ray United FC in partnership with Global Health Network Uganda, University of Southern California, Football for Good and Youth Rising set up powerful collaboration to bring a week-long camp focused on training school-going children and their teachers on how to combat some of these challenges.

Well, we all know that we cannot solve these challenges at once but we can do something. This is majorly informing people about the existence of these challenges and how to resiliently rise above them. The Ray United FC is no other, it harnesses the power of youth to promote global citizenship, health, and well being. This is through schools, community development programs, and youth exchange, bringing kids together to promote healthy behaviors and strengthen citizenship and leadership.

What makes everything fun, meaningful and engaging is the fact that every child would like to play. Ray FC, therefore, taps into the joy of children by training the public health skills and information using the game of soccer. The whole experience is absolutely rewarding and brings a smile to children (both boys and girls) from as early as 7 years up to 20 years.

After two consecutive years of Youth Rising partnering with Ray United FC to organize these camps in Uganda, we thought of what we could change this year. When you go to Oyam and bring Makerere University Students and University of Southern California Students to train children in public health skills and information, it may be hard for them to understand the concepts.

This year, we embarked on a journey of using some of the creative facilitation skills that we employ in our workspace to train the students from both universities that would later on in August 2017, carry out the training. Creative facilitation unearthed the creativity that the students have including creating learning and engaging games, energizers and icebreakers. Most importantly, the training bolstered their confidence and brought out joy and energy in translating and localizing training, to meet the local needs of children in Oyam.

As excerpted from Ray’s blog post:

We made a few key changes to our program this year. One change we made was to work with Youth Rising in advance of camp. Their staff trained our volunteers from the University of Southern California (USC) and Makerere University on how to better engage the youth. Being involved and integrated with the children we are trying to serve can often time be a challenge. Language and cultural differences can result in awkward silences and blank stares. To overcome this, everyone has to be ready to put themselves out there and make that personal connection. We spent an entire day before camp working on icebreakers, facilitation exercises, and practicing how to deliver our learning objectives. The day provided a powerful start to what would be an incredibly powerful week.

The energy and creativity of young people can only be harnessed by their mentors and trainers plugging in the same youthful energy, thereby “meeting in the middle”. In the middle, we connect, inspire, relate and finally cause knowledge transfer.

Learn more about Ray United FC at their website: www.rayunitedfc.org