Editor’s Note: This post was written by 2012 Youth Award Honoree Kyle Weiss. Kyle is the co-founder of FUNDaFIELD, a nonprofit that builds soccer fields in regions where children have experienced trauma or conflict. Kyle is partnering with 2006 Honoree Dr. Jane Aronson to build a soccer field in Godet, Haiti. The field will benefit orphaned children in Dr. Aronson’s program, Worldwide Orphans Foundation. Construction on the field will begin in May 2014.
People assume that the best part about winning the World of Children is the money. The assumption makes sense: $36,000.00 is huge for our organization. It has given us the ability to bring sports and play to thousands of children. However, the real beauty of winning the World of Children is, undoubtedly, the amazing network of philanthropists, visionaries, and all-around awesome people that will do everything they can to help support the children that you work with.
Although I was understandably excited to win the World of Children, it was not until I attended the Awards Ceremony in New York City that I truly understood the power of the World of Children family. It is hard to convey how incredible the World of Childrens Ceremony is: the atmosphere is undoubtedly electric. There are so many people to meet, stories to hear, and inspiring other Honorees to learn from. Like countless others, these people want to make a difference in a big way. Unlike most others, these people have actually done something huge, and it is both humbling and empowering to be included among them.
After a wonderfully elegant reception, we were seated at our tables and the formal ceremony began. I was still meeting everyone around me when the woman seated next to me caught my eye. This woman, who I would later find out is Dr. Jane Aronson, has a knack for standing out. Be it her waves of curly grey hair, her bright blue (sometimes orange) spectacles, or her carefree demeanor, Dr. Jane has a special quality that draws people to her. I would later find out that Dr. Jane also received a World of Children for her nonstop efforts as CEO of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO). WWO is an incredible organization that transforms the lives of orphaned children around the world.
Though we only managed to converse for a short period of time that night, Dr. Jane and I both understood the power of each other’s work. In my travels with FUNDaFIELD, I have seen too many orphaned children that will never have the chance to reach their full potential because they don’t get the care they deserve. And Dr. Jane understands that sports are one of the best ways for children to become “healthy, independent, productive members of their communities and the world.” In our brief discussion at the Awards Ceremony, we decided that we needed to work together, and that was that.
The question then became what the best partnership would look like. WWO already uses sports as one of their main methods of enrichment. We were lucky to be able to travel to Haiti with the WWO team last year and evaluate what a potential partnership might look like. There was a lot of potential for collaboration: WWO was already connected to a soccer league for orphans in Ethiopia and a young sports ambassador, actor Andrew Garfield.
In the end though, we decided that we needed to build a field together. If we could create a lasting space where a community would be able to play soccer, and WWO could run their sports-focused enrichment programs, than the total impact could be unprecedented. We also decided that Haiti would be an ideal place to work. FUNDaFIELD was just moving into Haiti as our work expanded and WWO wanted to increase their sports programming. It was a match made in heaven.
Fast forward to today. I am proud to announce that this May we will break ground on FUNDaFIELD’s 11th field in Godet, Haiti. Our partnership with WWO will provide a field that will be used for years to come by WWO’s sports enrichment programs. The orphans served by Dr. Jane and her team as well as the community of Godet will have a soccer field to call their own.
The majority of the costs for the field will be funded by World of Children. This field will exist as a symbol for the kind of change World of Children Honorees can do when they work together. We all work hard on our own and have done some amazing things, but the possibilities become endless once we are inducted into the World of Children family.
Thanks so much to Co-Founders Harry and Kay, and to the whole World of Children team for making this project possible. The children of Godet will be forever appreciative of your work.
Do you know heroes like Kyle and Dr. Aronson? Nominate them for our 2014 Awards: worldofchildren.org/nominate