One great coach.
That’s all it takes to start reversing the physical inactivity trend for kids.
We’d like to introduce you to four global change-makers championing youth and igniting passion for sport. Their stories, part of our Nike Dream Further series, will debut throughout the week here.
Only 1 in 5 kids currently gets the physical activity they need — and girls are moving even less than boys. If things continue on this same trajectory, it’s predicted that by 2030, kids from the U.S. to China and Brazil will be 30% – 50% less active. These kids often face cultural obstacles, gender discrimination and/or financial barriers to accessing play and sport.
Through Made to Play, Nike’s global commitment to getting kids active so they can live healthier, happier and more successful lives, we’re investing in coaches and change-makers like Neide Santos, Lin Meizhen, Rascha Ahmad and the legendary Kobe Bryant to inspire kids to move all around the world.
Building Hope Through Sport
Coach: Neide Santos
Organization: Vida Corrida, Sao Paulo, Brazil
After the deaths of both her husband and her son — due to street violence in their underserved neighborhood of Capão Redondo, Brazil — Neide Santos chose rather than become a victim, to stand up and fight for the community she loves. In 1999, she created Projeto Vida Corrida, a non-profit organization that Nike has supported for about 10 years and now serves hundreds of parents and children in Sao Paulo, teaching them all that through the power of sport and play, they too can change their futures for the better. “I really wanted to show people in the community that anyone could play sports — not just high-performance athletes,” she says. “I’ve never been an elite athlete, and I’ve been running my whole life.”
Building Imagination Through Sport
Coach: Lin Meizhen
Organization: Xianling Primary School in Fujian province, China
Before Ms. Lin (as she’s called by her students) arrived at the Xianling Primary School about nine years ago, they had never actually had a P.E. teacher. The school lacked funding for basic school supplies, let alone gym equipment, and getting the kids there excited about physical activity was a struggle. But then one day, Ms. Lin saw a girl running and pushing a tire down the street, and it gave her an idea. She began collecting abandoned tires from auto repair shops in her village, cleaned them up and, with the kids’ help, transformed them into all sorts of things — hurdles, flower beds, wheelbarrows, hula hoops, etc. — that she could use in her classes to encourage creativity and play.
Last summer, Ms. Lin was one of 100 P.E. teachers to win an Active Schools Innovation Award, which honors teachers who are most effectively and creatively transforming the culture of sport and physical activity in schools across China. “I really want to develop more sports-oriented uses for other everyday materials, like plastic bottles and cotton bags. It’s amazing how innovative the kids are when you ask them about what they can do with these materials,” she says. “They made a wheelbarrow out of tires. I know these kids can accomplish anything if given the resources.”
Building Opportunity Through Sport
Coach: Rascha Ahmad
Organization: Buntkicktgut, Berlin, Germany
There are currently an estimated 15,000 refugee kids living in Berlin, many of whom have fled war or conflict to get there. And as a child of immigrants growing up in Berlin Neukolln herself, Rascha Ahmad knows all too well the struggles that many of these children face at home, at school and in their communities. It’s one of the things that makes her such a powerful role model and coach with Berlin Kickt, a football and education program designed — in partnership with Nike, the International Rescue Committee and local organization Buntkicktgut — to help refugee children across the city unleash their potential through sport.
Berlin Kickt gives these kids the supportive community they need so they can thrive emotionally and physically in their new home. And just like Rascha, almost all of the other coaches in the program come from migrant backgrounds, too.
Building Equality Through Sport
Coach/Athlete: Kobe Bryant
Organization: Mamba League
Sure, you may already know Kobe Bryant, the basketball player. But do you know Kobe Bryant, the coach? The one who coaches his daughter’s team in an effort to help give his own kids a more positive experience in sport and play? Similarly, when Kobe launched the Mamba League — in collaboration with Nike and the Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles — in 2017, he did it with the hope of getting more kids (8- to 10-year-olds), especially girls, from underserved communities out on the court and giving them an opportunity to really learn the fun and fundamentals of basketball. Every site is required to enroll an equal number of girls and boys into its program, with a goal of having 50 percent of all its athletes and coaches be female.
The league now serves over 600 kids in the LA area (more than double its size from the first year!), and it just expanded to New York City this year as well.