U de Moncton Club Gives Haiti Kids The Right To Play

From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.

A Right to Play club of twenty-nine Université de Moncton students, six other Monctonians, and kinesthiology professor Roger Leblanc organized and went on a trip to Haiti during early May 2011.

The trip was the result of eight months of preparation and fundraising– thanks to the hard work of the participants and generous contributers in the community, the group was able to deliver $125 000 worth of money and supplies to Haiti. Each participant was expected to organize a fundraiser for the trip, whether it be grocery bagging or soccer tournaments, and to visit a school in New Brunswick to talk about Right to Play and the U de Moncton club’s trip to Haiti.Right to Play is an international organization that strives to empower children worldwide, regardless of their background, through participation in sports and games.

The trip taken earlier this May was the third annual trip to Haiti organized so far by the Université de Moncton Right to Play club. Haiti was chosen as the destination for the trip by the Université de Moncton club because the group wanted to show their support to the significant Haitian student population at Université de Moncton.

The Université de Moncton club arrived in Haiti with 100 bags bulging with sports equipment, clothing, school materials, and toys. While there, the club organized an under-13 soccer tournament that was viewed by a crowd of over a thousand Haitians, a Canada vs. Haiti women’s soccer game, and a game with the national amputees soccer team (the club also financed the team’s tour in northern Haiti). Students also visited nine Haitian schools to promote physical activity to children, financed and helped complete the construction of a library, made a soccer field, and delivered teddy bears to Haitian children in hospitals and orphanages.

Mathieu Boudreau-Frenette, a 2009 graduate of École Secondaire Népisiguit in Bathurst who is studying kinesthiology at Université de Moncton, joined the Right to Play Université de Moncton Club because he was looking for a way to get involved with campus activities and because he wanted to play a part in the reconstruction of Haiti after the earthquake.

He says, ”The trip is not only about what we do over there, but it’s also about what we bring back with us. We brought back life experience and memories that will follow us for the rest of our life. There are a lot of things in Canada that we take for granted like access to water and three meals a day. But in some countries around the globe, like Haiti, those resources are very hard to get. Being home, I try to appreciate those things. The most memorable part of the trip was playing with the children in the various schools we visited. Knowing these children have very little in their life, being able to witness their passion for sports, especially soccer, was incredible. All they asked was to play with us, and their smiles were worth a thousand words. Also, bringing 2.5 tons of equipment along with 500 soccer balls to these children was very special. We worked hard all year to make this happen and we’re all glad everything went well.”

Université de Moncton’s Right to Play Club plans to organize a fourth trip to Haiti during 2012.

View the group’s trip video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFMtpmt0Txo&feature=related and at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVfEXaRLj2s&feature=related.

Originally published in the Times & Transcript on July 23rd, 2011.

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