June 10, 2012

Agahozo Shalom Youth Village is on a mission to get our girl’s moving, and moving with a purpose. The Village, which is 60% girls, has seen that when it comes to the classroom and sports field our girl’s are under-represented in terms of achievement and voice. However, the Village is searching for ways to make noticeable and dramatic changes that will send a message to our girls and boys that no matter your gender you are fully capable of success. We want to tell our students that each child is being afforded the same opportunity; it is now up to them to work to their full potential.

One program that is underway to get our girl’s more active and understanding the importance of physical activity is a new Gymtonics program. Every Saturday morning at 6:00 am in the courtyard of the Liquidnet Family High School, our girls take part in an aerobics- core building-dance inspired workout. The program is the brainchild of Human Resource Director, Celine Uwineza and is taught by professional football player, Anne Mbonimpa. Celine and Anne, with the help of various Mamas, counselors and cousins lead our girls through an active routine of heart stimulating moves as popular tunes are pumped out of speakers. It’s all just enough to get the ladies of ASYV moving and happily breaking a sweat.

Another push within the Village is to get our girls’ sports teams to be as motivated and committed as our boys’. While the boys’ teams all qualified past the initial rounds of the inter-school competitions, all of our girls’ teams were unable to make it past the first round, despite their obvious talent. To counter the thinking that guys are naturally better at physical activity and that it is improper for women to fully exert themselves at sports, the coaches of all the girls’ teams have begun to discuss during the weekly sports meetings ways to get our girls’ more excited about running and giving 100% during their sports EPs and on their respective sports’ teams.

An example of a full out effort to motivate and empower our girl’s on the field can be found with the girl’s football team, which was unable to qualify for the Inter-school sport’s competition after losing to St. Aloys High School in their first match. However, their coaches, long-term volunteers Melissa Flint and Dorea Jackson, have continued to push the girl’s to attend practice and have worked with Informal Education Program Coordinator, Jean-Claude Parisien, to set up friendly matches. After many practices since their last defeat the girl’s are making noticeable improvements and last Saturday, in a friendly re-match against St. Aloys our girl’s tied their opponents 1-1 in a well fought game. The pride and excitement felt by our girl’s at their efforts to improve their performance were palpable. They have been further encouraged by professional footballer, Anne’s decision to attend practices and help the girl’s improve even further.