The Street Child Games – an Olympic-themed event that targets former street children from around the world – kicked off this week in Rio de Janeiro’s Forte Sao Joao Urca in Brazil. Organized by Street Child Games in association with Save the Children, the games target youth at risk and on the streets from major cities around the world.
This year’s games will be held between 14 and 20 March, and include 60 participants from Argentina, Brazil, Burundi, Egypt, England, India, Mozambique, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Over six days, the teams will participate in six Olympic-themed events, including 100m, 100m Hurdles, 400m, Long Jump, Shot Put, 4x 100m Relay. The teams are trained by grassroots organizations that work with street-connected children at risk in their home countries.
The UK-based charity Street Child United first organized the Street Child World Cup in March 2010 in Durban and organized a second event in the lead-up to the World Cup in Rio in 2014. This is the first time that the group has organised an Olympic-themed event.
The UN estimates that there are 150 million street-connected children worldwide, and the games aim to raise awareness about the risks of violence and round-ups that children living on the streets of host cities face in the run-up to mega sporting events like the Olympics and the World Cup. In addition to organizing the games, the group has spent the past few months consulting children across Rio about how preparations for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic games have affected their lives.
The six-day-long event includes a Model-UN style Congress at Rio’s Copacabana Palace, which will be held on March 18 where youth will discuss the challenges that they face on a daily basis. At the end of the day, participants will present a resolution and an open letter to the International Olympic Committee regarding the risks and necessary protections for street children and children at risk during and leading up to mega sporting events.
The games celebrate the right of children to play and express themselves in a friendly environment, and organizers and supporters will be sharing the event on social media using the hashtag IamSomebody.