Pacific Youth & Sport Conference
Following its successful debut in Auckland, New Zealand in 2010, the second Pacific Youth and Sports Conference (PYASC) took place from 2-7 December 2013 in New Caledonia, in partnership with the New Caledonia Government and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
Gathering around 800 young people from across the Pacific, the conference provided an opportunity to meet, interact and discuss important issues affecting the youth community in each country.
The conference is just one step towards a long term goal and the objectives for attendees are very clear:
-to inform them about the social issues youth have in the Pacific,
-to give them a good understanding on how to use sport as a social development tool
-to encourage them to design sport for development programmes during the conference to be implemented into communities right after PYASC
-to develop partnerships between youth, government bodies and countries and share best practices and experiences
During that week, following the call from the leaders of the forums in Auckland (September 2011) and in Rarotonga (August 2012), the conference was organised around three themes aiming to address significant social issues that young Pacific Islanders are facing, and how they can use sport to address these issues, particularly relating to:
75 per cent of all deaths in the pacific are due to Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) such as overweight/obese children, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, as well as other critical health issues (alcohol / drug misuse, suicide, poor sexual and reproductive health). Sport can be used to respond to these issues by enhancing public health through physical activity, improving mental health, and preventing sexual disease, thus contributing to the wellbeing of individuals
Education / Capacity building
Not all young people between the ages of 15 to 19 years old are in school, and many struggle with basic literacy and numeracy skills. Physical activities are important to the development of young people in education, life skills and active citizenship. Sport can be used to promote school attendance and improving learning performance and developing skills through play and team-work can empower young people and help them engage in their communities.
With around 2 million youth in the Pacific, this young population is lacking the opportunity to engage in their community, especially if they have a disability or are young women. Sport can be used to fight against domestic violence, anti-social behaviour and can promote cultural inclusion. Physical activities should not exclude people with cultural differences, ethnic background, gender or disabilities. It is a great equaliser and should instead include everyone and promote harmony in diversity.
The conference was concluded with the Ministers of Youth & Sports meeting at the SPC headquarters. The ministers have considered the recommendations and proposals made by the PYASC participants and have explored Sport for Development opportunities to be included in their respective youth policies.
The conference represents a partnership between various stakeholders whose common goal is to assemble the youth of the region together to see how sport can improve the lives of individuals and communities. The stakeholders who are working together to create a successful event include: FIFA, Fonds du Pacifique, Government of Australia through the Australian Sports Commission, Olympic Sports Federations of Oceania, Commonwealth Secretariat, Women Win and Unicef.
For more information, please visit www.pyasc.org
You can also find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/PacificYouthAndSportsConferencepyasc
and Twitter @PYASC