Putting Learning into Action: The Impact of Experiential Leadership
Promo Jeune Basket has always believed that sport has the power to teach young people important values and lessons in their lives. The four program values – hard work, discipline, team spirit, and respect – are fundamental to the basketball practices that Promo Jeune Basket (PJB) provides to its 1,000+ youth across Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.
PJB has recently began providing formal Life Skills lessons after basketball practice. The Life Skills Curriculum teaches youth about personal health, increases their ability to work with others, aids them in forming important professional habits to boost their academics, and allows for a safe, peaceful, open space for dialogue about the challenges they encounter in their community. The ultimate goal of the Life Skills Curriculum is to equip youth with the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence they need to be active and engaged citizen leaders for their city and nation.
In February, the PJB Girls Elite Eagle team participated in a Life Skills unit centered on leadership. The course worked to define leadership, teach leadership competencies, and explore leadership as it relates to team sports, home, school, and community life. This unit also coupled the classroom lessons with a practical experience to breathe life into the material.
The International Day of the Woman – a widely celebrated holiday in the Democratic Republic of Congo – fell during the leadership unit, and so the Eagle team took responsibility for organizing PJB’s celebration of the day on Sunday, March 19th, 2017. The day was split into two activities. The morning promoted gender equality in sports by inviting 96 novice female athletes from four schools in the neighborhood to learn different sports. PJB teamed up with three other local sport organizations, including football club GOAL, bicycling group Goma Cycling Club, and acrobatic group Umoja Club, to host four sport stations. Many of the participants had never competed in sports, so Eagle team members accompanied each group of new athletes to embolden them and to demonstrate the sporting techniques. At the end of the morning session, the girls were encouraged to continue practicing sports, and had the opportunity to visit the four organizations’ information tables to learn about ways to continue sports.
The afternoon featured performances by all the PJB female teams. Each team was tasked with organizing their own performance, and the presentations included poetry, dancing, traditional fashion displays, and songs written about PJB. Many PJB players and families attended the performances, and it was a unique chance for PJB’s four different programming locations to come together and celebrate female participants.
The young women from the Eagle team were involved in all aspects of this event, and helped brainstorm ideas for the day, delivered invitations to participants, guided younger teams in organizing and practicing their performances, and acted as the MC’s for the entire day. The Eagle Girls team applied the principles of leadership to planning and executing this major event, directly linking the Life Skills Curriculum to action.
The International Day of the Woman was deemed a success – PJB was proud to promote female access to sports, and was impressed by the creativity and leadership from the young women of the Eagle team. Many of the Eagle team members cited this celebration as their favorite part of the Leadership unit, saying, “I learned that men and women have the same value and that we can do the same work and in the same way,” and “I learned how to express myself and how to fit into society alongside men.” Evaluations held at the end of the course showed that 100% of the course participants liked the experience, and felt they had learned something that could be applied to their everyday lives.
This is the ultimate goal of the Life Skills course – that young people take lessons learned through sport and apply them to their community. Students should be given the opportunity to apply learned content immediately to their world and their life. PJB continues to see the positive impact that sport and education have on the youth of Goma when used in tangent.
Promo Jeune Basket will be publishing the Life Skills Curriculum later in 2017, available for download in French and English for other Sport for Development organisations to use.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in Peace and Sport Watch are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Peace and Sport.