In the past couple of decades, the importance of community-based participatory programs have been highlighted through scores of research articles and publications and is now widely accepted as a fundamental principle of good community development practice. The main concept behind community-based participatory programs is that the community and the individuals within that community are recognized as an asset and involved throughout all aspects of the planning, implementation, and evaluation process. It’s been shown that including the perspective and feedback of the community from the very beginning of program planning allows for the most effective and efficient services tailored to a specific population. However, despite the research, vulnerable populations that programs seek to serve are too often still seen as the beneficiaries, rather than truly a collaborative partner for each step of the process. We’re trying to change that.
Having traveled to the camps since 2005, one of i-ACT’s greatest strengths is our ability and ambition to constantly reconnect and communicate with the refugees to include their much needed perspective, input and feedback in program development. For example, we’re proud to say that the call for the Darfur United Soccer Academy was truly driven by refugee voices during our many discussions with them on our trips. And now that the Darfur United Soccer Academy is becoming a reality, we get to go to Camp Mile this coming October and see it come to life! We’ll again be collaborating with the refugees, but this time around, the inputs and ideas from the refugees will be pivotal in the actual implementation of the Academy, and we’ll get to see their idea for a soccer program come to fruition!
Fellow readers, questions for you: What do you think of a community-based participatory approach for sports programs? Is this an approach you are familiar with or new to you? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Please join us in implementing the first community-led sports program in the Darfuri refugee camps. Give $10, and you’ll sponsor one refugee child for one-year of participation in the Darfur United Soccer Academy.