SDG 10. No child should be treated unfairly — no matter who they are, where they live, what their parents do, what language they speak, what their religion is, whether they are a boy or girl, what their culture is, whether they have a disability and whether they are rich or poor. All children have rights and should feel included in society.
A report from the Swedish Institute for Evaluation of Labor Market and Education Policy (IFAU) shows that for youth to find their first job, access to the connections of a well-established parent or other adult is key.* This is something that newly arrived youth — especially unaccompanied minors — often lack. These youth often do not speak fluent Swedish and struggle to navigate job ads and recruitment processes. This results in limited possibility to gain employment, which is the first step on the path towards social exclusion.
In response to this challenge, social entrepreneur Anna Lindh launched Right To Play Sweden. In cooperation with municipalities, sports associations and the youth themselves, Right To Play Sweden uses sports as a platform to equip the youth with the self-esteem and self-confidence to apply for a job, and with the knowledge, skills and connections needed to get one. Ultimately, Right To Play Sweden aims for the youth to become active participants in Swedish society.
*When strong ties are strong — networks and youth labor market entry (Kramarz & Nordström Skans, 2014)
In 2018, Anna and her team measured fulfillment of the targeted outcomes, Improved language skills and Increased network of native Swedish friends (see the result in the below graph). The youth in the before and after assessments are not the same, but comparable on relevant aspects, e.g., age, gender, time in Sweden, family situation and asylum status. The youth who received support from Right To Play Sweden report a significantly higher self-rating than the youth who did not receive support (the result is statistically significant at the <10% level).
Mohammed arrived to Sweden without his family when he was 16 years old. Mohammed says, “I was feeling bad because I did not know if I could stay. I longed for my family and I felt small and helpless.” Mohammed’s friends recommended Right To Play Sweden and he applied to be a youth leader. When Mohammed got the job, he felt incredibly happy, “This is a dream job. It is a job that gives me the possibility to give something back to the community that initially helped me. I can also help more newly arrived youths to integrate, get a job, learn the language, expand their networks and avoid social exclusion and loneliness.” Looking back, Mohammed observes that a lot has happened since he first engaged in Right To Play Sweden: “Since I started in Right To Play Sweden I have improved my confidence. Right To Play Sweden has opened doors for me that otherwise would not have been opened, and behind those doors there have been many possibilities. Now I long less for my family. I’m active instead of staying at home and thinking about how much I miss my family.” He ends by saying:
“One of the best things about Right To Play is that I feel that there is a long-term plan. It makes me feel safe.” — Mohammed
When Anna was selected to the incubator back in 2017, Right To Play Sweden had just decided to launch in Sweden: “When we joined the incubator, we had nothing in place. We started to receive support from Reach for Change for planning and measuring our impact, which has enabled us to find out to what extent our solution actually works. That has been crucial for us, both in terms of developing an effective solution, but also for other purposes such as raising funds.”
Anna continues: “In the beginning we also received coaching and guidance regarding the overall development of our organization. This strategic support really helped us take one step at a time and not run with everything.
We had so many ideas and so many things on our to-do list that we wanted to do right away, but the Swedish Reach for Change program team helped us slow down and prioritize. They told us to first focus on the youth and make sure to build a great program for them, and then we could move on to focus on other things. During 2018 we have continued to develop our programs, but also to build our brand using the results from the impact measurement that Reach for Change helped us conduct.”
As Anna looks back at her own journey as a social entrepreneur, she says: “Everything I know about running a social enterprise, I learned from Reach for Change. As social entrepreneurs, we are all at different levels of reaching our dream — but we need support to be able to do it. Because of the credibility that being a Change Leader has given us, we have been able to attach a strong value to our brand much earlier.”
In 2018, Right To Play Sweden almost doubled their number of children and youth supported and increased their revenues by more than $100,000 USD compared to 2017.
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