Three of UNB’s students are heading to Bangkok, Thailand for the Right to Play (RTP) Global Youth Summit.
First year track and field and cross country sprinter Aly Pickard-Tattrie is one of those three.
“I am really excited,” she said. “This is something that I’ve always really wanted to do.”
The Global Youth Summit is a leadership conference which hosts about 50 delegates – 30 of which are Canadian – as well as 20 youth from RTP programs in Asia, and representatives of RTP national offices.
The conference works with RTP, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing sports to those who cannot afford it on their own.
“Play is NOT a luxury,” says the mission statement on the RTP website. “It is a tool for education and health . . . a game of football can teach children about tolerance and peace, and a game of tag can teach about malaria. Play helps teach important life lessons and develop skills like cooperation, leadership and teamwork.”
Their slogan is “when children play, the world wins.”
The program started in 1994 as “Olympic Aid” in Lillehammer, Norway, at the winter Olympics, and was only extended to Thailand in 2006.
“Sports was a big thing to me growing up, I played a lot of them and I know that they can teach you life skills,” Pickard-Tattrie said. “So to be able to use those to teach kids who don’t necessarily get to play in their developing countries, it’s just something that I felt was really important.”
Pickard-Tattrie is only in her first year at UNB. A Varsity Reds member, she is heavily involved with RTP UNB. She is also a part of Habitat for Humanity Fredericton and a first year representative for Bridges House.
She went to the first RTP meeting to see what it was all about and decided it was something she really wanted to become involved in.
“Our varsity athletes are very involved in our Right to Play organization, so it’s very much promoted for us to get involved,” she said.
She went through the application process, had her interview and was one of the 30 Canadian delegates chosen.
Vaccinations and seminars on what to expect, what their roles are and other details of the trip come later on in the year, but what Pickard-Tattrie and the other delegates need to focus on is individually raising $3000 before they leave – giving UNB representatives a grand total of $9000.
Acting as a coach for her high school’s track team, she is used to the leadership role.
The kinesiology student used to be the running track coach at her high school, North Colchester High in Nova Scotia, as well as an athlete herself, focusing on the 100 metre and 200 metre races.
“I was a coach and a participant, so it was interesting coming here and finally getting that coaching, instead of having to coach myself.”
She said it was definitely interesting, but hard at times.
“I actually found when we went to our first meet, I was more nervous for my kids to run than I was about myself,” she said.
Pickard-Tattrie said she is looking forward to going to Thailand for RTP, but isn’t looking forward to the exhausting trip.
“It’s going to be a very exhausting trip because I move back into residence the day that I get back,” she said. “Two days of travel, six days there and you’re going half way around the world.”
The RTP program has helped more than 56,000 children and youth, with a participation rate of over 45 per cent females and over 1,000 coaches. UNB holds various fundraisers throughout the year including coaches going barefoot during games to raise awareness, flag football tournaments and other events.
“Right to Play’s mission is to use sport and play to educate and empower children and youth to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict, and disease in disadvantaged communities,” according to their website.