Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The times are a changing

I spent last weekend in Washington, D.C. It is an underrated, beautiful city which is really worth a 2-3 day visit. We were there for a USA Rugby Board meeting and to attend the traditional New Zealand Ambassador’s Shield Rugby Match. The game was to celebrate an amazing initiative with Hyde School, an inner city, low income, urban development with all the problems you would expect in a public charter in the inner city. Over the last decade, Tal Bayer has run an initiative at the school using rugby as a catalyst to create character, growth, recognition and pride. The results have been spectacular. 50% of African-American males from Washington, D.C. never graduate high school. In contrast, 100% of Hyde senior rugby players are accepted to 4-year anniversaries.

We celebrated this initiative with a dinner hosted by the New Zealand Ambassador, Roy Ferguson and his wife, Dawn, at their residence at the New Zealand Embassy. It was a beautiful evening that brought together business, government, academia and sport, all driven by shared beliefs and shared dreams. The conversation, as well as the food, was stimulating and it was a joy to hear Roy talk about democracy and rugby. The timing could not have been better as it was within one week of America’s decision to choose Barack Obama as their president. It was also 12 hours after New Zealand’s decision to elect Prime Minister John Key. Both these choices were driven by a desire for change, the need to refresh and an optimistic trust in shared, inclusive values. America and New Zealand share many things and hopefully these two new leaders will bring their countries closer together politically and in the vital (for New Zealand) trade arena. It was a pretty buzzy time to be in Washington I can tell you.


Allison O'Neill said...

Sounds awesome! We need a lot more initatives like that. The kids just need to see that they can be amazing (through catalysts such as a good ol game of ruggar)once they see THEY ARE WORTH IT - everything changes. A great example I've seen similar in New Zealand is ex-gang members speaking to kids that are already in gangs age 12. These guys deserve a medal for the work they do - and we need more of them too.

Sophee McPhee said...

Check out: http://www.homelessworldcup.org/

You might already know about this initiative. I think it's bloody brilliant. Like many sporting events, the Homeless World Cup proves that attributes, such as commitment, compassion & courage, are worthy of respect and admiration. It’s not just about money, status and power in this world. The values fostered by football particularly profound because they have their heart in the right place and are accessible to all.

Pi said...

How awesome that rugby can contribute in this way and I believe the results in character growth will in fact be profound. How exciting for you to be in a place where those two energies meet. Here is a link you may feel is worth the 40 second read KR http://planetpi.blogspot.com/2008/11/adventure-before-dementia-limerick.html Did you catch the game? A cracker I can assure you.

tal said...

I am glad you enjoyed your trip to DC and had an opportunity to learn more about Hyde, the Shield Match and the wonderful relationship and support the embassy has established with our school. The "Turn your Life Around" program NZ you told me about was pretty special as well.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule and stay in touch!

Tal Bayer
Hyde Rugby