“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
He’s pretty smart, the bloke who wrote the proverb above. After all, he highlights the importance of great parents, teachers, coaches and mentors. In others words, people with love, passion and skills who are dedicated to raising and developing young lives.
Unfortunately, there are many young people in the world who have little opportunity to be taught in the ways they should go. Through no fault of their own they have been raised in difficult circumstances such as poverty or being orphaned. Many have trouble getting access to a good education. While others live in environments where drugs, alcohol and violence are a part of everyday life. The result? These children often follow the same disadvantaged paths they have been put on, with little idea on how to break the cycle.
But now there is hope. Through Champions Pathway.
Champions Pathway is a philanthropic service dedicated to training up a child “in the way he should go.” It helps young people from difficult circumstances to break the disadvantage cycle and forge new and exciting paths for their lives.
Specifically, Champions Pathway uses life coaching through sport and fitness to help under-privileged youth develop the skills they need to succeed at life. As well, we provide sports equipment and apparel to assist kids to pursue their sport, fitness and life goals. The service supports parents in the life development process for their children. And it helps youth whose parents are absent from their lives.
Working with disadvantaged youth in the Philippines
Currently, Champions Pathway’s main focus is helping disadvantaged youth in the Philippines. Classified by the International Monetary Fund as a developing country, the Philippines has far less wealth on a GDP per capita basis when compared to developed countries like the USA and New Zealand.
According to data from the Philippines National Statistics Coordination Board, around 1/4 of the 103 million Filipino population live below the poverty line, which is defined as a weekly income of 1,923 Philippine pesos. This is equivalent to approximately NZ$54.00 and this is what those in poverty are expected to live on each week to pay for household necessities such as accommodation and food. So it’s a meagre amount.
To heighten the financial difficulties many Filipinos face, that country does not have an unemployment benefit and other social benefits like here in New Zealand.
On the sporting front, in the Philippines school system there is not a strong emphasis on sport and physical education, compared to countries like New Zealand and Australia. Also, the country is not viewed internationally as an elite sporting nation. However, a small number of Filipino athletes are globally recognised, including world-champion boxer Manny Pacquiao and golfer Jason Day. And with its large population, there is vast untapped sports and fitness potential in the Philippines.
Through Champions Pathway we share with Filipino youth the many benefits of sport and fitness, with our first project completed in December 2017.
Why sport and fitness?
Sport and fitness – especially when performed on a competitive level – is a great teaching tool and a wonderful metaphor for life. And, through sport kids learn valuable life skills such as:
- Goal setting
- Strategic planning
- Team work
- Resilience and mental toughness
- Hard work
- Overcoming adversity
Why are these skills so important? According to UNESCO, “Life skills are a group of cognitive, personal and interpersonal abilities that help people make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathize with others, and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner.” (Source: UNESCO website).
As well as being great for developing life skills, sport and fitness are dynamic and multi-sensory, offer variety, build health and fitness levels, get youth away from worldly pastimes and distractions, and suit multiple learning styles. It’s a no-brainer really.
Champions Pathway draws upon my background as a strategist and high performance coach working with CEOs, business owners and career professionals…together with 20+ years experience as a youth leader, outdoor education instructor, scout leader and sports and fitness coach. It also brings to the fore my experience as a recipient of great mentoring when I was young. You see, I grew up in a dysfunctional household with an absent father, dropped out of high school, then returned again and got my s&#t together, thanks in part to important mentors who helped me out.
Education and coaching is a valuable way of giving back and helping others, whereby we give not just a hand out, but a hand up. To paraphrase the famous quote, Champions Pathway is about coaching others how to fish and not just feeding them fish.
Furthermore, I believe that when we create and provide great memories and learning experiences for youth, it will stay with them for a lifetime. Indeed, I still have men and women in their 20s and 30s coming up to me today and thanking me for some life-changing coaching experiences they received from me 10-15 years prior.
Let me be clear. Champions Pathway is not about developing the next superstar rugby player, cricketer or footballer, so they can play professionally. After all, the fact is, only a small minority will get to that level.
Champions Pathway is about developing superstar problem solvers, creative thinkers, planners, leaders and team players. It is about helping to better prepare youth for a life of education so they can become great teachers, doctors, builders, accountants or any other type of occupation. And where they learn how to be better citizens and positive contributors to society.
Now, if some end up to become sporting superstars, then that’s an added bonus…but the main focus is on building life skills, with an emphasis on the High Performance Super VII: