At Play & Learn, we believe in well-rounded after-school and weekend programming that ensures our participants are developing various skillsets, as well as having fun. The four pillars of PAL programming are: Academic Support, Athletic Training, Mentorship, and Community Outreach. We believe that these complementary programmatic areas allow youth to develop both the hard and soft skills needed to become leaders in their local and global communities.
Children work with international tutors 2 days per week for 1.5 to 2 hours per session. The small group size (no more than 4 children per tutor) ensures that tutors cater to individual ability levels and that each child is able to receive one-on-one attention. Tutors are encouraged to use innovative and fun teaching resources and techniques, in order to keep students engaged and curious. Tutoring sessions focus on English language development (specifically reading and comprehension), development of creative and critical thought (using creative writing, poetry, and debates), as well as general homework help (maths, sciences, etc.).
In Ghana, as in many other parts of the globe, football serves as a medium to overcome any number of social, cultural, and class barriers. As such, football is at the heart of Play & Learn. Many of our youth are extremely talented footballers and PAL coaches work tirelessly to ensure they are challenged in their athletic abilities. However, football also presents an excellent opportunity to work with children on developing a number of important life skills, such as teamwork, time management, discipline, respect, communication, and leadership. Coaches work equally as hard to ensure these skills are being transferred to our players in all sports training sessions. PAL participants train twice per week, with an additional training session on Sunday when in preparation for a match.
PAL's Nkonsonkonson Mentor Programme works in two stages. First, a group of interested adolescents work with international volunteers for one semester (4 months). During this time, mentees are encouraged and supported to: analyze the impact of the PAL program on their lives; improve their comfortability with public speaking; recognize their strengths and weaknesses; identify short-, medium- and long-term goals; and identify specific areas of interest (whether that be an academic field, trade, art space, etc.). At the end of the semester, mentors create a profile for each child and PAL subsequently identifies a local professional mentor to take on the second stage of the Nkonsonkonson Mentor Program. In this second stage, mentees are paired (for a minimum of 6 months) with an individual who has the knowledge and experience to support and guide them towards achieving their goals in their identified area of interest.
PAL works with and supports other local organizations on a variety of community outreach activities. To date, these have included a community walk to encourage local community service ('Walk for Love' event) and meal distribution to homeless individuals in some of the most underserved areas of Accra ('Street Love' project). Participating in community service work allows PAL youth to practice respect and tolerance for all people, as well as develop an understanding of the importance of contributing to your local community.
At PAL, we know empowered women are a prerequisite for creating a good nation. We want to play our part by helping our young women and girls to pursue their goals, improve their abilities, and understand their inner strength. In our newest effort towards this end, we created our Yaa Asantewaa Girl Empowerment Program. The Project's initiatives, workshops, and lectures aim to foster social and emotional development, critical thinking and problem solving skills they need to achieve. Additionally, each participate has a Big Sister—older role models who guide the younger sisters through the program and provide a network of support and friendship beyond the duration of the program. We will continue to find new ways to serve our girls and young women, so that everyone's star can shine.
Starting in July, 2021, the Play and Learn Foundation will be offering the Akoma Ntoaso Summer Exchange Program, an exciting opportunity for people around the world to come to Ghana, play and learn with our community, and experience the incredible richness and diversity of Ghanaian culture. Additionally, eligible participants will be able to earn academic credit that can be transferred to the university of their choice. All revenue from the program goes directly into supporting and enhancing current PAL programs, allowing us to sustain and expand into the future. Together, our stars will shine!
The Play & Learn Foundation works to empower Ghanaian youth through a combination of academics, athletics, mentorship, and community contribution to develop the skills needed to become leaders in their local and global communities.