PSC focuses on life-changing programs for Filipino children
SPORTS is more than just winning medals. With this mantra serving as its guiding principle, the Philippine Sports Commission is deviating from the usual norms of solely focusing on elite sports.
“Sports transcends life. It’s not just about winning and losing. Sports should be a life-changing experience, not just for a few, but for all Filipinos, especially our children,” said PSC chairman Butch Ramirez.
The PSC would still rejoice with every Filipino victory in international arena, but its role now has become larger than life.
Acting on the instructions of the President Rodrigo Duterte to bring sports to all Filipinos, Ramirez has taken a more noble approach aimed at providing better lives to the next generation of Filipinos.
Ramirez re-launched the Philippine Sports Institute under Marc Velasco, an international conditioning coach and sports science advocate, who in turn revived the Children’s Games with a new twist.
The Children’s Games are not just a mere sports program, they have also become a special tool to promote peace among children from different cultural and religious groups, including Muslims, Christians and Lumads.
Another life-changing program introduced by the PSC is the KID-S.O.S (Kabataan Iwas Droga-Start on Sports), which has been touring the provinces nationwide to conduct sports clinics and seminars, aimed at taking away the children’s minds from vices like gambling and drugs.
The Children’s Games and the Palaro Kontra Droga are not just a part of the PSC’s Corporate Social Responsibility programs.
For Ramirez, they have become a major mission for the country’s sports agency for sports.
“The children are our focus, they are the real golds and not the ones in the SEA (Southeast Asian) Games nor the Olympics because they are the future leaders and peacemakers of the country. When children play, humanity celebrates,” Ramirez added.
Since its relaunch in May last year in Davao, more than 10,000 children have participated in the Children’s Games, including those from the conflict areas in Marawi City.
“We made 10,000 children happy, but more than that, hindi lang ito naging laro-laro, may malaking implication sa values ng mga bata lalung-lalo na sa peacemaking.”
The Children’s Games were held in Baguio City, Benguet, Laoag, Ilocos Norte and Bontoc in Luzon; Naga, Cebu, Carcar and mountain areas in the Visayas; and in Davao City and Iligan City in Mindanao.
Partnership with Unesco
The PSC calls it a game that cares as the Children’s Games align their program with the United Nation’s policy that puts emphasis on every child’s right to play.
“The Constitution also mandated us to nurture the children, promote values formation thereby improving the citizens’ quality of life. Giving value to the children has an institutional foundation. The children are the future of the country,” Ramirez said, adding that the PSC’s focus on the children is anchored on UN’s medium development plan.
Because of this, the PSC attracted the interest of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), which cited the Philippines for focusing on children’s rights.
“We are the first government unit around the world to partner with Unesco. We are very excited about this endeavor,” said Velasco.
He also said that while there are other Children’s Games initiated by non-government units in other countries, only the Philippines has a Children’s Games program initiated by a government agency through the PSC.
Because of Unesco’s interest and forging a partnership with the PSC, the Children’s Games may become a global program.
Caroline Baxter Tresise, UNESCO’s Consultant on Youth and Sport Social and Human Sciences, said the partnership is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.
“We will use the Philippines as an example on how it should be done. We will align our program with the national sports policy (of the PSC). It’s a great opportunity for the Philippines to take the lead,” said Tresise.
Bigger Children’s Games
After the initial success of its Children’s Games, the PSC and the PSI plan to bring the games to 40 cities and provinces on Nov 20, 2018 in celebration of the World Children’s Day. This means a simultaneous playing of some 40,000 kids in one day is being eyed by the sports body.
Ramirez said the plan is ambitious but they are more than willing to make it happen.
“Forty simultaneous Children’s Games with 1,000 children in each area, mabigat ito. If we do this every year, we will reach 200,000 children in five years,” the PSC chief said, although adding that the World Children’s Day event is aside from other Children’s Games that will be held in other areas in the countryside until every community in the periphery is reached before the term of President Duterte ends in 2022.
Being at the heart of PSC-PSI’s grassroots sports program, the games meet the requirements of the United Nations’ medium development plan and the Philippine Constitution.
“Very important ito (Children’s Games). Others don’t understand why we are having Children’s Games. Ito lang ang programa ang narecognize ng Unesco,” he said, adding that regular programs like the Batang Pinoy, Palarong Pambansa and Philippine National Games, which have been existing for quite sometime, have not been given such recognition.
The Children’s Games, designed as a vehicle to promote peace, aims to bring Christian, Lumad and Muslim children 12 years old and below to play together, thus, eliminating barriers of religion and culture. Children from the marginalized sector including the children in conflict with the law, out-of-school youth, streetchildren, children displaced by war and abused children are also part of the program. Youth volunteerism is also being promoted in the Children’s Games through the Ate and Kuya sports volunteers program.
Ramirez added: “This is a legacy we want to leave, that we have supported the children’s right to play and helped in the formation of values and character of future mothers, fathers, policemen, leaders of the country.”
War against drugs
Amid the government’s full-scale war against drugs, the Philippine National Police and other enforcement agencies are not the only ones taking active roles fighting this menace.
The Kabataan Iwas Droga-Start on Sports (KID-S.O.S) community program was held in Pangasinan, Cavite and at the Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila.
More than just the games to have fun and discover raw talents, the major aim is to educate children about having big dreams and making new friends.
“There’s a bigger world out there. Children should realize that there are bigger opportunities out there waiting to be discovered. We just have to give them chance to meet those opportunities,” said the PSC chief.
With these programs poised to become global, Ramirez vowed that his agency will continue to focus on their bigger role of touching the lives of the children, including the out of school youth, orphans, poor and those who have lost hope in society.