Youth and Sports Development Coordinator

Project Description

For over six decades, Peace Corps Belize has been at the forefront of community empowerment through grassroots volunteerism. Since 1962, more than 2,100 Peace Corps Volunteers have lent their expertise and enthusiasm to various projects, becoming integral members of our communities. Today, we stand with our Belizean partners, fostering bonds of friendship and cooperation as we work toward world peace and friendship.

PROJECT OVERVIEW:

In 2023, we embarked on an exciting new partnership with the Belize National Sports Council, launching the Youth Empowered by Sports (YES) Project. This initiative aims to address the developmental needs of youth aged 6 to 14, using the power of sports as a catalyst for positive change. Volunteers are assigned to a National Sports Council (NSC) district office with a dedicated workspace; and will also support youth sports and life skills activities at a designated primary school. Our Volunteers, backed by strong community, school, and government support, must embody dedication and professionalism. Their commitment to embracing Peace Corps' Core Expectations and Approach to Development fuels lasting change for the youth of Belize.

PROJECT GOAL:

The Youth Empowered by Sports (YES) Project has one goal: Belizean youth empowered to live healthy lives and fulfill their potential.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES:

To support our goal, Volunteers will work collaboratively with our partners across three objectives:

Strengthen the life skills of youth:

• Co-plan and co-facilitate gender equitable programming incorporating life skills development via youth sports clubs, sports camps, fun days, and/or sports clinics.

Increase the skills of youth service providers:

• Co-plan youth programs with youth service providers.
• Co-train youth service providers in the implementation of positive youth development activities and life skills.
• Co-train and guide organization members on the application of organizational development skills and knowledge (e.g., strategic planning, governance, communications, administration).

Increase the ability of parents and caregivers to support their children:

• Co-train families/caregivers/community groups on key topics to support youth development.
• Co-create strategies to increase and/or deepen families’ and/or caregivers’ positive engagement with their children.

ADDITIONAL CONTEXT:

Volunteers will collaborate with NSC Coordinators, teachers, and sports coaches to establish after-school sports club programs at primary schools while also enhancing life skills and involving parents to bolster youth physical and mental resilience. Furthermore, Volunteers will play a pivotal role in enhancing the organizational development of NSC District Offices and empowering Coordinators to fortify and maintain active youth sports initiatives with a focus on gender equity. These partnerships with counterparts serve as the cornerstone for achieving the objectives of the YES Project. Over time, Peace Corps’ development approach, emphasizing skills transfer and sustainability, has profoundly impacted the lives of community members.

Additionally, YES Volunteers will receive training to engage youth in climate action, including volunteerism and service-learning activities that contribute to Global Youth Service Day, Earth Day, or International Youth Day.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS:

This program uses sports as a vehicle for instilling life skills. YES Volunteers need to anticipate physical activity amidst the challenging conditions of heat and humidity. Volunteers must actively take part in sports drills during team practices they coach and be prepared to engage in physical exertion for training sessions, games, and tournaments. This may also include relocating furniture or sports equipment. It's crucial to emphasize that these activities will occur within Belize's tropical climate. Dedication to maintaining physical fitness and adaptability to varying conditions are integral to a Volunteer’s success in this role.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will meet one or more of the following criteria:

•A degree in Social Science, Education-Physical Education, Youth/Community Development, Sports Coaching or Sports Management.
•Experience educating adults on youth development topics such as: healthy lifestyles, athletic training, gender equality, youth life skills, parent engagement, or related areas.
•Experience playing or coaching soccer, basketball, volleyball, track & field, or softball professionally, at the collegiate level, or through intramural sports as an adult.
•Experience working in diverse or underserved communities with limited resources.
•Experience using and navigating online learning platforms.
•Experience working with youth ages 10 to 14, preferably in schools clubs, summer camps or after school programs.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

LANGUAGE TRAINING:

Belize boasts a rich and diverse ethnic, cultural, and linguistic environment. Volunteers will undergo training in the language that is predominantly spoken in their work site. At present, Peace Corps Belize trains Volunteers in either Spanish or Kriol. While prior proficiency in Spanish or Kriol is advantageous, it is not required.

COMMITMENT TO LEARNING:

Volunteers must be flexible and ready to learn whichever language is spoken in their assigned community. Language proficiency assessments are conducted during Pre-Service Training (PST) and at specific intervals during service. Meeting language proficiency benchmarks is a prerequisite to be sworn-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Learning the local language is vital for cultural integration, personal safety, and fulfilling work assignments.

Living Conditions

HOUSING:

Volunteers live with host families during the 11-weeks of Pre-Service Training (PST) and the first six months after arrival at their worksite. Volunteers may remain with a host family for the duration of their service or choose independent living. Living with a host family can be a highlight of service, helping with cultural exchange, integration, language learning, and contributing to safety and security. However, adapting to cultural norms requires an open mind, cultural sensitivity, patience, and flexibility.

CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS:

Volunteers often find themselves in the minority. Despite recent decriminalization of homosexuality, Belize maintains conservative values. Volunteers must exercise discretion when addressing topics of sexual orientation and gender identity. PST equips volunteers with skills to navigate challenges they may face.

DIET:

During PST, Volunteers will adapt to meals provided by their host families (with accommodations for medical restrictions as needed). Typical meals include rice, beans, chicken, tortillas, eggs, and soups. Trainees should be prepared to adapt to the local foods and dietary changes. Adhering to special diets (such as vegetarian) will be challenging. Once in their service community, Volunteers may cook their own meals or arrange meal-sharing with their host families.

APPEARANCE:

Maintaining personal grooming and professional attire is essential. Volunteers must adhere to personal appearance guidelines, which typically entails uniforms or business casual dress in professional environments. Extensive tattoos, including facial tattoos, are not customary in Belize.

TRANSPORTATION:

Volunteers primarily travel by walking, bicycling, or taking the public bus or taxis to conduct personal business, such as buying groceries, banking, internet, etc. Volunteers are not allowed to drive autos during service, nor drive or ride on a motorcycle.

COMMUNICATIONS:

Peace Corps encourages Volunteers to bring an unlocked smartphone, or one will be provided. We will provide a local SIM card with calling, text, and limited data for official use. Volunteers who wish to maintain their U.S. SIM card and plan may find smartphones with dual SIM capability. Belize boasts strong cell phone coverage; however, in remote inland areas it may be limited or nonexistent.

CLIMATE:

Throughout the year, temperatures in Belize typically range from the low 70s to mid-90s, with humidity averaging around 80 percent. The rainy season, coinciding with the hurricane season (June to December), brings wet and cool weather, while the dry season (January to May) is characterized by hot and dusty conditions. Volunteers engaged primarily in outdoor activities year-round will need strategies to cope with the extreme heat and humidity.

CULTURAL ENRICHMENT:

Belize presents a unique opportunity for those seeking to immerse themselves in a culturally diverse environment. Volunteers will engage with a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicities, gaining valuable insights into Belizean society.

In addition to its cultural richness, Belize boasts stunning natural landscapes, from its lush forests to its pristine coastlines. While Volunteers will have the chance to explore these wonders, their primary focus will be on community integration and advancing project objectives. Outside of work, Volunteers will connect with their host families and engage with local youth, non-governmental organizations, and community leaders. These integration activities will not only enhance their project work but also facilitate a deeper understanding of Belizean culture and customs through mutual exchange.

Serving in Belize

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Belize: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.


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