Stephanie Nicolas, PPI-CY Program Coordinator, was recently chosen to represent the young leader program of the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace at the SportAccord Forum held in Saint Petersburg. In this week’s blog Stephanie shares with us her experiences.
This past week, I was invited as a guest speaker at the SportAccord International Forum of Martial Arts and Combat Sports in Society, held in Saint Petersburg, Russia. After attending the young leaders camp of the United Nations Office of Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) in Sweden this past summer, I was chosen by UNOSDP to represent this group of outstanding young sport for development leaders at the SportAccord Forum. SportAccord is the international umbrella organization for international sports federations. Their recent forum in Saint Petersburg focused on the power of sport to help communities and individuals bridge divides. The forum included the sessions “Creating Peace, Development and Social Cohesion through Sport”, “Using combat sport to create social change: Moving from vision to action,” as well as the panel I was invited to speak on, “Activating the athlete as a role model, an educator and influencer”.
During the panel, I shared my own personal story and how basketball has changed my life for the better. I talked about how initiatives such as Doves Olympic Movement, PeacePlayers – Cyprus, and UNOSDP have guided me to develop my personal life vision, mission and goals. Thanks in large part to these organizations, I have come to realize, that through sport, I have the ability to change perceptions and stereotypes, and to develop young leaders who also seek to change the prejudices that our society has been creating over the years.
It was a terrific opportunity to share my personal story on a grand scale along side so many highly influential leaders in the field of sport for development. Among such leaders were: Mr. Marius Vizer, President of Sport Accord, Dr. Heather Cameron, CEO of Boxgirls, Mr. Luke Dowdney, the founder and director of Fight for Peace, and the man who helped make it possible for me to attend, Mr. Wilfried Lemke, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on Sport for Development and Peace.
Despite the cold weather and low temperatures of St. Petersburg, I enjoyed every moment of the forum, and my first visit to such a historic city. Someday, I will get the chance to return again but during the summer period. Being a Cypriot, cold weather is not our forte.
I want to take this opportunity to thank SportAccord, UNOSDP, and PeacePlayers for this tremendous experience to share my story. I’m honored to be a UNOSDP participant, a PeacePlayers coach, and honored to be identified as a youth role model and one of the UNOSDP’s, and Mr. Lemke’s top priorities for the future.