Magic Bus: driving change in India one game at a time

Through the use of a mentoring model and sport-based curriculum, non-profit organisation Magic Bus works with thousands of children and volunteer mentors from marginalised communities in India every week to deliver fundamental learnings, and accompany young people living in poverty to help them make the right choices towards a better life.

Learning, Leading, Earning

Founded in 1999 by Englishman and former rugby player Matthew Spacie, and with the help of CEO of the organisation’s Indian branch Patrik Kumar, Magic Bus works in India’s poorest villages and slum settlements. It is committed to teacing life lessons through play to children across 10 states and supporting them in moving them and their families out of poverty. To date, this programme has reached over 250,000 children, resulting in 77 per cent of Magic Bus children attending school more than five days a week. And 9 out of 10 of these are first-generation learners, who are getting into higher education and jobs.

Magic Bus accompanies a child from the age of 7 to 18, and engages with them through the Activity-Based Curriculum (ABC) – a unique model which makes use of games and sports to inspire change. Comprising 40 sessions per year, ABC teaches children about education, gender, health and other key issues affecting them through playing sport, encouraging them to build better physical, social and personal skills as well as breaking gender-related stereotypes. Thanks to the organisation’s efforts, 96 per cent of Magic Bus children now believe that every child, regardless of gender, should have the right to play.

Through a Mentorship programme, local youth volunteers are trained to become Community Youth Leaders, acting as role models and mentors to other children; conducting ABC sessions; and inciting positive change in their health and hygiene habits as well as in their community. Finally, the young people take part in the organisation’s Connect Programme, which, by providing access to training and courses, drives the majority of them to pursue higher education studies or enrol in employability programmes.

After a decade-long journey with Magic Bus, these children emerge as competent and confident young people prepared to move into respectable livelihoods and contribute constructively to a better society.

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Life lessons through play

With a week to go to Olympic Day on 23 June, this is a great opportunity to highlight various community-based sport and recreational programmes that encourage citizens, regardless of age, gender or abilities, to get active and embrace the Olympic ideals of excellence, friendship and respect. Magic Bus is a prime example of a Sport for All project using sport as a tool for development to address social issues, raise awareness and inspire behavioural change.

This project will also be featured as a case study in the latest IOC Get Moving! Toolkit – a guide to managing Sport for All programmes to be released in July, which combines practical guidance and inspirational cases aimed at assisting and motivating participants in the development of new programmes.

Learn more about the IOC’s Sport for All initiatives here

Learn more about Olympic Day here

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