The Beyond Sport 2012 summit, which took place in London last week, brought additional recognition, this time at the international level, of the efforts the Policy Center for Roma and Minorities (PCRM) team makes to transform the lives of children from Ferentari, Bucharest through education and sport.
A global organization that promotes, develops and supports the use of sports as an instrument for positive social change across the world, Beyond Sport selected PCRM as a finalist in its annual competition for most innovative sports for social change projects for the second time. After participating in the Cape Town, South Africa summit in December 2011, PCRM returned to Beyond Sport in London, where it received the UNICEF Sport for Education award just days before the start of the London Olympics. Winners in other competition categories hailed from very diverse countries: from Afghanistan and South Africa to Haiti, the United States and Uganda.
Entitled “Sports for Education, Education for the Future”, PCRM’s application presented the sports activities that motivate the children at the Alternative Education Club to study. Thanks to sports activities—football, basketball, volleyball, table tennis or street dance—the children regain their trust in education and in their own forces. They also acquire values such as discipline, respect toward oneself and the other and team spirit. Participation in sports events outside the Club offers the children the opportunity to meet professional athletes who become their roles models. At the same time, famous Romanian sportspeople and sports fans everywhere learn about the reality of life in the Ferentari ghetto and the need to fight racism, discrimination and social exclusion.
After the award ceremony, PCRM President Valeriu Nicolae discussed the organization’s social inclusion model for children who grow up in the ghetto with personalities such as former UK prim-minister Tony Blair (honorary chairman of Beyond Sport „ambassadors”), UNICEF UK Ambassador Martin Bell (pictured above with Mr. Nicolae), American sprinter Michael Johnson and rugby champion François Pienaar, former South Africa captain. Mr. Nicolae also presented the Alternative Education Club to the United States Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ms. Hannah Rosenthal, who promised to visit the Club next time she is in Romania.
PCRM is the only European organization to have one won a Beyond Sport award in this category and at the same time the only Roma organization to ever receive a Beyond Sport award. In addition to the prestige that comes with global acknowledgement, award winners also receive concrete advantages: free consultancy from PricewaterhouseCoopers in the areas of efficiency and sustainability, participation in the Beyond Sport network (which entails partnership opportunities and strategic counseling) as well as a cash award.