When Children Play

The Story of Right to Play

by Gina McMurchy-Barber

Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013
ISBN 978-155455-154-5
$19.95, 56 pp., ages 8 – 12

Social justice for children has become a global issue in recent decades with many organizations under the umbrella of the United Nations seeking strategies and interventions to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged youth in impoverished and war-torn countries. With emphasis on health, nutrition and education over the past years, we have often forgotten about that most basic principle in all children’s’ lives: play.

When Children Play chronicles the formation and volunteer activities of many world renowned athletes to support children in a return to the fundamentals of their nature. When faced with hunger or starvation, poverty, war and poor health, children need to be freed from the torments of their existence and relearn what it is to be a child. This book tells the story of how the Right to Play movement began in the 1990s and how the organization grew from an idea to full fruition from the Olympic Organizing Committee through Olympic Aid and partnered with several global health organizations using the names, reputations and commitments of Olympic athletes.

The stories focus on communities and individuals who have been supported by the Right to Play organization, and include interesting anecdotes about the lives of children who have benefitted from the program, such as two boys who wanted to play soccer each day but had to wait for their friend who owned a shirt that could be wrapped into a ball.

Curriculum Connections:

When Children Play is a great resource to enhance a global education program and to inspire students towards further global citizenship. At the back of the book is contact information for the Right to Play organization and Teacher Resource Guide. Classes looking for a fundraising opportunity might want to explore this book and become part of the Right to Play NGO. Game instructions included could be used by teachers to enhance their gym or daily physical education lessons.

[Review by Kent Miller.]

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