As the Olympic Games enter their final week, Right To Play reveals the vital work that Olympians do introducing children across the world to the power of sport.
Last week children in Rwanda caught Britain's Olympic fever.
Right To Play, a charity that uses play and sport to improve the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world, used video conferencing to connect Kigali with London.
Cycling Olympians from Specialized’s lululemon team, including Canada’s Clara Hughes, had a live link up with 25 children and Coaches in Rwanda.
"Many of the women were riding in the time trial the day before, which was pretty amazing,” explains Nick Smith, National Director, Right To Play UK.
"It was fantastic. Here you had a professional cycling team directly interacting with the kids in Rwanda.
"Rwanda is one of the countries where we are really promoting our gender equality work.
"We are trying to drive lasting social change. Our Athlete Ambassadors have experienced the positive impact of sport on their own lives and that makes them ideal advocates for our work.
"The Olympics are great for London, but for us it is also a time to remember those that are less fortunate. It gives us a platform to promote our message and our work."
Nick Smith added:
"There were 25 children and staff in Kigali and just watching the human interaction between the kids and these cyclists is what Right To Play is all about.
"The athletes were talking to the children about how sport helps their own development but also what sport can bring to anyone.
"It was phrases like hope and spirit, friendship, having a goal, practising and dreaming big.
"Clara Hughes came out with the line 'there is nothing a girl cannot do that a guy can do' and to hear that from the only athlete to have won multiple medals in both the Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics sends a really positive message."
Right To Play’s history has deep links with the Olympics.
At the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer a new awareness organisation, Olympic Aid, was conceived.
It aimed to show support for people in war-torn countries and areas of distress. Olympic athletes were chosen to be Ambassadors of Olympic Aid to assist in the fundraising efforts.
The lead Athlete Ambassador was Norwegian speed-skater and four-time gold medalist Johann Olav Koss, who donated a large portion of his winnings to Olympic Aid and challenged fellow athletes and the global community to donate money for each gold medal won.
Johann Olav Koss, explains Nick Smith, “went to developing countries and saw how poverty was affecting the most marginalised communities".
"He saw that spending a bit of money on using sport to inspire children could make a significant impact – that was the birth of Right To Play.
"Now we are reaching 835,000 children every week through regular sport and play activities.
"Through a really powerful network of 12,000 local volunteers we are using the transformative power of sport to empower children facing adversity, developing essential life skills and giving hope for better futures.
"We are working in over 20 countries. Our project models have various impact areas - education, health, conflict resolution, community participation - but underpinning all of this is a focus on gender equality."
Founded in 2000, the organisation promotes the power of sport and play for development, health and peace.
Right To Play is supported by more than 350 professional and Olympic athletes from over 40 countries around the world.
"70 ambassadors are actually competing in the Games right now," explains Nick Smith.
"They help us in a number of different ways. Including visiting the field to see the benefits of our programmes first-hand. Other Athlete Ambassadors help with fundraising and promoting the charity to support our national offices in the UK, US, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
"The the best way to see what Right To Play does is to experience first-hand our programmes and see the children benefiting.
Last week’s video conference, which was made possible by Right To Play’s global partner Polycom, was one of a series of events aimed at extending the benefits beyond the UK through the use of HD video collaboration solutions to young people across the globe.
The focus on gender equality involved promoting the active participation of girls and young women, using play activities to empower girls and challenge traditional gender stereotypes.
"Rwanda is a good case study,” explains Nick Smith.
"We have been working there since 2003.
"We are trying to create a protective environment conducive to learning for all children and encouraging girls to be a major part of this.
"We do this by a variety of programmes and games.
"For example, we have a resource called Red Ball Child Play which promotes intellectual, physical, emotional and social development.
"We have another programme called Live Safe, Play Safe, which is a HIV and AIDS education and prevention programme.
"It focuses on promoting life skills for adopting and maintaining healthy behaviours, such as resisting peer pressure, reducing stigma around HIV and AIDS and promoting values such as respect and inclusion."
Nick Smith adds:
"Of the 835,000 children we work with, 50% of them are girls. We are pretty proud of that statistic because in many of those communities the girls and women are marginalised."
Sport may not be able to solve all the world’s problems, but its lessons of self-confidence, self-esteem and respect can play a role in helping the most disadvantaged children.