35 'ates and kuyas' undergo volunteers' training

A TOTAL of 35 volunteers from Muslim, Lumad, and Christian communities underwent training over the weekend to assist participants of the Sports for Peace Children's Games set on Friday and Saturday, August 18 and 19, at Mergrande Ocean Resort in Toril, Davao City.

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) consultant Sergio Opeña, also overall in-charge of the Children's Games, said the Ates and Kuyas were trained not only as volunteers for the children but as community leaders who will continue to promote grassroots sports program in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's directive to bring sports to the countryside.

The training held August 11 to 13 at the Sacred Heart Spirituality Center in Barangay Catalunan Grande featured team building, leadership, basic child psychology, leadership, sports as a vehicle for peace and vision of PSC, among others.

Participants came from as far as Barangay Pañalum, Barangay Sirawan and Barangay Sasa while Muslim and Maranao volunteers were from Mini Forest in Boulevard. Churches involved were St. Jude Thaddeus Parish, San Pedro Parish and Fatima Parish.

Brother Noelvic Deloria of the Brothers of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart spearheaded the training that was facilitated by the Kaliwat Theater Group.

Opeña said, "The Ate and Kuya concept will be replicated all over the country. They will become Volunteers for Sports. Every 10 children in the Games will have an Ate or a Kuya who will lead them during the two-day inter-faith children's games for peace."

Volunteers are aged 18 to 25.

Some 350 Muslim, Lumad and Christian children 12 years old and below will participate in the upcoming Games wherein they will all be staying at the beach resort.

Similar programs will be held in other parts of the region including Digos City, Island Garden City of Samal, Mati City and Panabo City.

The Sports for Peace Children's Games is a brainchild of PSC Chairman William "Butch" Ramirez who earlier said that the Filipino children are the real gold medals, not those the country is chasing in the Olympics, Asian Games or Southeast Asian Games.

Unesco has lauded the PSC and the Philippine Sports Institute for the Children's Games, a major component of the agency's grassroots sports development program.

Unesco consultant Caroline Baxter Tresise earlier said, "The Children's Games and sports for peace are aligned with what Unesco promotes."

Chairman Ramirez, meanwhile, said: "We are excited about the journey of Children's Games. It's not easy but we are excited the Philippine government has this program and it just so happened that we have an ongoing crisis in Marawi City. We hope the Children's Games will bridge the gap between Muslims and Christians."

He added that at least 50 Children's Games will be held before this year ends. (PR)

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