Supporting Armenian young people with sports facilities

By Maria Martirosyan

Participation in sports and physical activity has been associated with improved physical, psychological, social and spiritual health for young people. Photo: Street Workout Armenia

Stepanavan is one of the promising small cities in the north of Armenia, situated in Lori province. It’s surrounded by breathtaking nature, inhabited with the most warm-hearted people. Stepanavan’s young people are very motivated, friendly and they like exercising together and socializing.

Together with our local partner Street Workout Armenia, we at UNDP Armenia’s Kolba Lab, a powerful network of thinkers, dreamers and doers, are launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to build an outdoor sports playground for young people.

We teamed up with Street Workout Armenia because their main objective is to attract the attention of children, adolescents and youth to sports and culture, to promote street sports and to make them accessible for everyone.

What brought us to action?

The younger generation in Stepanavan, as in many other places in the world, are deprived of the chance for sports, entertainment and socializing. Children and young people mostly attend school and other extracurricular activities. They don’t have many other options for healthy exercise.

Like many children around the world, those in Stepanavan lack opportunities for healthy exercise, and often spend less and less time outdoors particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown and school closures. Photo: UNDP Armenia

Participation in sport and physical activity has been associated with a bunch of positive consequences for young people’s physical, psychological, social and spiritual health. Sports have a lot of health benefits for children, with exercise being one of the least expensive ways to stay healthy, and it helps children develop and improve cognitive and social skills.

In the meantime, more and more we see that young people are spending more time online and less time outside playing sports. Since they also don’t have many options that would be accessible for them, they get easily attached to their devices. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more harm in this regard. Studies show that the lockdowns, restrictions and school closures have severely affected the physical and mental wellbeing of young people and children.

There is hope for change

Vardan, a young man from Yerevan, who has a physical disability, started attending sports events organized by our partner Street Workout Armenia at a new outdoor sports court that opened in his city. Since then, Vardan’s life has completely changed. He made friends and built his strength and confidence, as well as his belief in himself and the possible opportunities ahead of him. Seeing the transformational impact on people’s lives, mental health and wellbeing from making just a small change in the city — we decided to take action in Stepanavan.

Participating in sports and physical exercise can have a transformational impact on the lives and mental wellbeing of youth, increasing their confidence and social connection. Photo: UNDP Armenia

Have your impact, act now

We want to bring in a change, starting with the small town of Stepanavan, which lacks outdoor sports courts where young people can get together, socialize and play. We want to construct an outdoor sports playground in Stepanavan and build a street workout community through the organization of different sport events. Such a facility would give everyone in the community immediate access to exercising and sports and foster a healthy lifestyle in the city.

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