Peace Corps, IAYS Team Up for Youth

September 16, 2011

Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 2011 The Peace Corps and the International Alliance for Youth Sports (IAYS) will collaborate by developing and implementing youth sports programs with Peace Corps volunteers worldwide. Volunteers will have access to IAYS sports equipment, and educational and training materials that will teach youth life skills through sports. A letter of collaboration was signed Sept. 12, 2011 by Peace Corps Chief of Staff Stacy Rhodes and IAYS President and CEO Fred Engh during a ceremony at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Through this collaboration with IAYS, Peace Corps volunteers will have more tools to empower youth in communities around the world, said Chief of Staff Rhodes (Bolivia, 1968-1970). Volunteers will work with IAYS to provide quality sports programs that promote physical fitness and teach youth important life skills.

The idea to collaborate with the Peace Corps in this initiative is one that we have been working on for quite some time, said Engh, president and CEO of IAYS, a division of the National Alliance for Youth Sports. President Kennedy, who founded the Peace Corps in 1961, believed very much in the power of sports and I believe he would be proud today to see this collaboration become a reality.

In the past, Peace Corps volunteers have worked informally with IAYS on sports programs in Armenia, Guatemala, and Morocco. Peace Corps/Morocco youth development volunteer Alex Cash of Jackson, Mich., received seven large boxes of sports equipment from IAYS in April 2011. She used the equipment, which included 50 basketballs, to start an afterschool basketball program for nearly 100 youth at her local youth center.

Sports can play a large role in youth development for many reasons, said Cash, a graduate of Michigan State University. By learning about respect, teamwork, and determination through sports, young people can become more well rounded and capable adults.

Peace Corps youth and community development volunteers work with communities to form youth groups, clubs and sports teams. Volunteers also develop extracurricular activities that help local youth build confidence, and develop decision-making, communication, and leadership skills that promote positive relationships with peers, parents and adults. Today, five percent of Peace Corps volunteers work in the youth development sector.

About The National Alliance for Youth Sports: The National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), founded in 1981, is America's leading advocate for positive and safe sports and activities for children. The non-profit 501(c)(3) organization is based in West Palm Beach, Florida. The IAYS, NAYS international division, focuses on assisting communities around the world with implementing sports programs as a means to develop peace and life skills as well as a healthy lifestyle. It partners with worldwide organizations like Children International and it recently collaborated with the Guatemalan government in bringing its signature program, Game On! Youth Sports, to schools and communities throughout Guatemala.

About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.

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