Celebrating our first Street Child Games anniversary

Posted on the 16th March 2017

One year ago, former homeless and street-connected young people representing nine countries from across the world came together in Rio 2016 ahead of the Olympic Games, for the first Street Child Games – using the power of sport to challenge the widespread stigma street children face and call for change in their treatment.

Our job is to get the countries on the side of these young people. If they see them differently, then they will treat them differently. And we know we can do that through sport.

John Wroe, CEO, Street Child United

Each young person became an athlete and ambassador calling for governments and communities to better protect, respect and support all street children so they can build a life away from the streets. They focused on three key demands: the right to legal identity or birth registration, protection from violence and access to education.

On the track, the teams competed against each other in Olympic-themed sports, including 100m, 400m, Hurdles, Long Jump, Shot Put and Relay.

Off the track the teams were united at a Congress for their rights. Together they produced the Rio Resolution – a set of concrete recommendations to help improve the lives of all street-connected children around the globe.

At the Congress I felt free, and also I felt empowered. That means, saying what is in my heart…I felt bigger.

Team Mozambique

The young people presented their Resolution at their own General Assembly, hosted at the iconic Copacabana Palace in front of invited media, VIPs, community leaders and supporters.

Impact beyond the track

The voices of the young people at the Street Child Games reached an estimated 80 million people worldwide. The Rio Resolution was recognised by the United Nations, and is being used by the teams at home to help raise awareness and support for street-connected children’s rights.

We are all equal and no one is different – we want to be heard.

Team Argentina

Burundi led partner organisation New Generation’s campaign for legal identity for street-connected children. Their medal haul made their country proud and resulted in 36 birth certificates being granted for children in their care – with more expected to come.

Because of them [Team Burundi] it was easy for me to get my birth certificate…Now I can get an ID, have the right to vote and continue my studies.

Jean Claude, a young person in the care of New Generation in Burundi

Team India and Hepsiba’s 100m gold medal got India talking about street children and their right to birth registration. Hepsiba met Mrs Maneka Gandhi, the Minister for Women and Child Development (pictured below), who pledged to give birth registration to all children in India, including street children.

Team India meets Maneka Gandhi, Minister fo Women and Children

Unicef estimate that 1 in 3 of the world’s children under five have never been registered. Without birth registration or a legal identity, children remain vulnerable to exploitation and often cannot access basic services including healthcare and education.

The campaign for legal identity continues across India. Recently, a collection of NGOs including Save the Children India enabled 50,000 street children in Delhi to get Aadhaar cards – a recognised form of identification – within the next six months.

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The Street Child Games are important because I got a stage. There are many children in India like me. Their talents are hidden. Through the Street Child Games their talents are shown.

Hepsiba, Team India

Great Britain are taking the Rio Resolution to homeless youth organisations in London to share their experiences, listen to their voices and advocate for their needs.

Team Philippines focused on education. Their participation secured funding to employ a teacher for a year, enabling more young children in the Payatas community, Manila, to access to a safe place to play and learn away from the streets. This in turn will help older children (particularly girls) continue with their studies, instead of having to look after their younger siblings whilst their parents are at work.

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