As a former elite athlete and coach in Canada, I have been privileged to work under and with some amazing people and enjoyed opportunities and life lessons that can only be gained through sport. My passion has always been to pass this along to young athletes and built successful sport academies that had transformational impact on kids.

That all changed when I took a couple of university teams to Ethiopia. As we drove through the capital city, Adis Ababa, early one morning before dawn, I saw a dozen children about ages 3-10. They were sleeping at the base of a concrete pillar that was holding up an overpass. I was curious as to why they were sleeping with their arms and legs linked together. In Africa it’s normal to see orphans living in the street, but the way they slept didn’t make sense, so I asked our interpreter why. He explained that during the night, men come along and pull a child away to rape them. The children protect themselves by sleeping interconnected so that if they feel one being pulled away, they can hold onto each other. I stared in disbelief and horror at the situations children of the world face on a daily basis. At that time I vowed to use my skills, experience, and knowledge for the children who are the most oppressed.

Today, we have affiliate academies in Malawi, India, Zimbabwe, Bolivia and are continually growing. Children who once didn’t even dream of being able to play are now getting high quality training, using life’s circumstances to develop perseverance, developing strong character and becoming community leaders and world changers. In 2019 we began investigating the potential to open academies in Canada, my homeland.

Will you join us in supporting our work so that children can dream again and have the same opportunities you have? You can support financially, provide in kind services, or volunteer. Contact me at kathryn@atlanticstars.ca.

Kate Kristoffel