The Arsenal Foundation

Arsenal to hold event at World Economic Forum

The Arsenal Foundation and Save the Children will hold an event at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday 22 January to raise the profile of the impact conflict and violence has on the mental health of children and their families and explore how football is playing its part in supporting them.

The panel discussion, “Children’s Right to Recovery: I am the future”, will focus on how the sports sector can provide leadership, effective partnerships and help leverage greater investment from the private sector to support and foster a sense of belonging for the world’s most vulnerable young girls and boys. It will also explore the importance of protecting and promoting the mental health and wellbeing of children and youth.

Hosted by Global Citizen Forum as part of their Beyond Boundaries series which aims to ensure a brighter future for generations to come, the event will draw on the experience of ‘Coaching for Life,’ a programme currently delivered and co-created by The Arsenal Foundation and Save the Children that supports children’s mental wellbeing and recovery through a bespoke football coaching programme currently delivered in Jordan and Indonesia. 

Coaching for Life, has combined Save the Children’s 100 years of child protection expertise with Arsenal’s experience of its close relationship and varied body of work in its local community, to create a ground-breaking programme that supports the mental health and wellbeing of children affected by war, poverty and exploitation.  

The first phase of the programme aims to engage over 4,000 children; 2,000 boys and 2,000 girls. The children supported by the programme in Za’atari refugee camp, Jordan have been forced to flee the war in Syria and those taking part in the programme in Indonesia have been affected by poverty and exploitation in Jakarta’s slums. The Arsenal Foundation has trained 14 Syrian coaches and 33 Indonesian coaches to deliver the programme across five pitches in Jordan and seven pitches in Indonesia.  

Speakers at the event will include Svenja Geissmar, chair of The Arsenal Foundation; Kevin Watkins, chief executive officer of Save the Children UK and Dr Leslie Snider, director, MHPSS Collaborative for Children and Families in Adversity. 

Children who take part in the Coaching for Life programme in Za’atari Refugee Camp will also be contributing to this discussion and will talk about their personal experiences.  

Watkins, chief executive officer at Save the Children, said: “We know that mental distress can affect children in a number of ways. It can lead to changes in behaviour, feelings of anxiety, depression, hopelessness and worthlessness. In the short-term, conflict and exploitation can affect children’s sense of wellbeing, educational outcomes and ability to cope with their situation. 

"However, where it is most severe and children are not provided with support, this distress can have life-long effects and has the potential to affect children’s long term physical and cognitive development. 

“Coaching for Life has been working in Jordan and Indonesia since 2018 to help and support some of these very vulnerable children. Save the Children has been committed to protecting children for 100 years and now thanks to The Arsenal Foundation, we can continue to empower and protect girls and boys through the sport that they love.”

Chair of The Arsenal Foundation, Svenja Geissmar, added: “Arsenal’s work in its local community has grown significantly over the years and has always had young people at its heart. 

"Our work and expertise, combined with the unique power Arsenal has to reach people, has responded to the needs of vulnerable young people and found a way to reach them. Through trusted coaches, carefully developed projects and being a constant presence and source of support and inspiration, Arsenal has supported 1000s of young people and shown them that we care and have not forgotten them. 

"As the club’s profile has grown internationally, we always knew we could use our expertise to reach many more young people in crisis across the globe. Together with Save the Children we have combined their global infrastructure and our expertise to make a difference through our Coaching for Life project to support these children.  

"I believe this is one of the most innovative project in world sport using our influence to protect children affected by conflict and violence to improve their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.  I’m incredibly proud of the Coaching for Life programme and want to share our experience with others to drive continued investment in sports programmes that can be deeply impactful to help improve mental and physical healthfor the world’s most vulnerable young people.”

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