"a chance to play changed my life completely"
"a chance to play changed my life completely"
Playing, having fun, being creative - activities that sum up the essence of a carefree childhood. But many children around the world are not able to grow up in such an environment.
With the "a chance to play" support programme, the Volkswagen Group Works Council and the children's charity ‘terre des hommes’ launched a project in 2010 that focuses on violence prevention as well as learning and educational opportunities in the direct and indirect sports environment.
Beat Wehrle, programme director of ‘terre des hommes’, fights for young people to grow up and live free from discrimination: "Girls, boys, but also minorities often feel unseen and find themselves in a complex cycle. Violence is often the last resort for many to be noticed. Through sport, this negative development can often be thwarted. It makes them realise how strong they are and what is possible in life."
"The projects provide safe spaces for play, sport and culture for children and young people growing up and living in difficult conditions around the world," says Daniela Cavallo, Chairwoman of the General and Group Works Council of Volkswagen AG. "They actively promote the right to play, which every child is entitled to. So ‘a chance to play’ is the active assumption of social responsibility. We all know how much work still needs to be done worldwide to eliminate gender-specific prejudices and establish ways of thinking, seeing and acting in societies around the world. Sport can play an elementary role in this context to achieve equality in practice worldwide." The cooperation between the Volkswagen Group Works Council and ‘terre des hommes’ actually dates back to 1998, and the Group's workforce has been involved ever since.
Project offers young people prospects for the future
On stage at Volkswagen UK in Milton Keynes, Brazilian Mariana Andrade and Luise Dreihardt from Germany reported on their experiences with "a chance to play". "The project has completely changed my life," said 25-year-old Andrade. "I come from a district of São Paulo that is characterized by violent conflicts. Football has always been my passion and gave me a real perspective for the future."
At 17, Andrade seems to have reached her goal: she received an invitation to join the Brazilian national team. But a major setback quickly followed. She had to stop playing football for the time being to support her family. "Giving up was out of the question for me and in 2014 I made it to the Street Football World Cup in my home country." She went on to lead training courses, became a spokesperson for the ‘terre des hommes’ youth network, studied social work and is committed to fighting racism and violence against young people. Last but not least, her biggest dream came true in 2020: the striker became a professional with Nacional Atlético Clube in São Paulo.
Participants build self-confidence
Luise Dreihardt emphasised that the project had been very important for her "because it has given me a lot of self-confidence. Sitting on a stage and speaking in front of an audience would have been unthinkable for me five years ago." The girl from Brandenburg has been a participant in the KICKFAIR programme, which focuses on young people's personal development and democratic interaction, since her school days.
Initially active as a player, the now 22-year-old later became more and more involved in the numerous support programmes and became a youth leader. "I am now much more tolerant of people who are different from me," says Dreihardt. "Thanks to the project, I got to travel to many countries and meet a lot of people. All this would not have been possible for me otherwise and I am very grateful to have had and taken this chance." Thanks to her own development, Dreihardt, who is currently doing a voluntary social year near Berlin, has become a role model for other young girls.
Successful project in seven countries worldwide
These are just two chapters in the story of "a chance to play". Currently, more than 50,000 children and young people are reached directly and more than one million indirectly in 32 projects and seven countries worldwide. Since the start of the programme, the Volkswagen workforce has been committed and voluntarily donates parts of their wages. With this money, ‘terre des hommes’ can sustainably improve the living situation for children and their families.
"Companies like Volkswagen getting involved in supporting social projects as part of their social commitment makes a huge difference," says Wehrle. "The fact that we come together and discuss these issues together is another step on our common path."