In recognition of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – specifically Goal #17: ‘Revitalize the global partnership of sustainable development’ – a consortium of international NGOs have formed the ‘Action Impact Network’ to establish a collective approach to measuring the impact of programmes delivering mental and wellbeing solutions to at-risk youth, through participation in sport and embodiment activities worldwide.
Eight organisations (African Yoga Project, Box Girls, Drive for Life, Grassroot Soccer, UNICEF, Skateistan, the Wave Project and Waves for Change) were joined by independent research experts and academic representatives for a three-day workshop in Cape Town. The primary objective was to establish a set of pragmatic indicators and data collection tools to measure the collective impact of youth sport-for-development and peace interventions. The meeting was funded by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Comic Relief and the World Childhood Foundation.
The group identified a number of common mechanisms for change, the most prominent being the provision of a safe space and passionate local mentors/role-models, and access to a fun/challenging/exciting activity. After identifying these key levers, the Group went on to develop a universal Theory of Change (ToC) with aligned indicators for processes, and outcome measures.
The short-term outcomes take account of four factors: improved wellbeing and increased emotion regulation; self-concept; social connectedness; and cognitive development.
The long-term outcomes look at: decreases in antisocial behaviour (substance abuse, crime, violence); increases in self-care (health behaviours, health seeking and hygiene); increases in community cohesion (social inclusion and peaceful diversity); and increases in livelihood and academic success (qualifications, employability).
In establishing these shared outcomes, the Action Impact Network supports two more of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – Goal #3: ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’, and Goal #5: ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’.
The final stage of the workshop refined the pragmatic data collection tools which will be piloted by each network member by the end of 2017.
The Action Impact Network shares the belief that in creating a common approach to monitoring and evaluation, they will be able to provide structured evidence that reinforces ‘what works’ in the sector of sport for development and wellbeing. This evidence will provide the key to ‘unlock the transformative power’ of funding and resource referenced in SDG #17 and in turn, amplify impact to help change more lives across the globe.
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