Sport Builds Bridges

16 Mar 2016


The programme, developed in Switzerland, aims at reintegrating street children into their families and public schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
Organisation Sport – The Bridge
Start-end date
2002 – ongoing
Target group age
5 – 15 years old
200 children
Local organisations
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Sport – The Bridge is a voluntary organisation founded in Switzerland that has the goal of promoting children’s personal development and building bridges between people. In doing so it relies on the universal value of sport. The Ethiopia-Sport Builds Bridges project offers street children from Addis Ababa a possibility to find a way back to their families and society. In the first year of the programme they attend daily sports educational lessons, tournaments and games. During training sessions of football, basketball, martial arts and other types of sports, the children learn acceptance, fairness and teamwork, as well as how to follow the rules. Additionally, the children have the opportunity to playfully practise how to deal with their emotions, both positive and negative. Children also learn to relate to and implement the behaviour they learn during sports into their daily lives. After the first few weeks, the programme begins to work with the families. Together with the staff, family members and the children discuss existing problems and look for solutions. The successful clarification of the family situation is key to the sustainable integration of the children in their families.


Help for self-help

The programme is based on the principle of “help for self-help” and can be divided into two phases: one year of intensive support, at the end of which the child should be ready to sleep at home and attend public school; and three further years of supervision of the child and their family.

Voluntary-based work

100 % of the work in Switzerland is done by volunteers; therefore all contributions go directly to the project in Ethiopia.

Communication channel

The programme has tailored its communication channels to reach a young audience. Social media platforms are widely used by teenagers to communicate.

Sport – The Bridge


Improve public health and well-being

The project has five departments, which are nutrition, health, family integration, sport and administration/infrastructure. Important components of the programme include personal body hygiene, health care, and the treatment of illnesses. Only a child who does not have to worry about finding food every day on the street and only a child with a healthy body can concentrate on the didactic topics in sport. In providing medical care, food support and teaching of various topics the programme ensures a healthy development of body and mind. In workshops and self-help groups the families learn how to handle their children, to take responsibility and also to improve their economic situation.

Provide equal access to sport

The goal of the programme is to offer street children a possibility to find a way back to their families and society through the universal medium of sport. The combination of access to sport with access to learning opportunities stands at the heart of the activities. Children and families, but also society, have to learn to change their behaviour, and sport is an ideal tool for promoting such learning. However access to sport is not always forthcoming for these communities. At the centre of the programme’s activities are the sport-pedagogical teaching of the children about social behaviour through sport, their reintegration into their families and their reintegration into school.


Communication is mainly through the involvement of the local community and by word-of-mouth through spreading the message in schools and institutions. This involvement offers opportunities to support and strengthen community cohesion and development and bring children to the programme with the support of their family.


Following the programme there is close contact with the children and their families through a follow-up programme in which support is reduced step-by-step to gradually promoting independence. Constant feedback and support is provided.

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