“Play and sport can help kids realize their full potential”
Research shows that encouraging physical activity in cities deliver multiple benefits, and Nike’s Vice President of Community Impact Jorge Casimiro says the same is true for their youngest citizens. In an interview with Sport & Citizenship, he tells us how Nike is working with partners around the world to fuel “Made to Play”, the company’s commitment to get more kids moving.
2019, March 28th
Physical inactivity is recognized as one of the biggest challenges faced by modern society. How does Nike view its role in addressing this issue?
JC: At Nike, we believe that kids are Made to Play and that play and sport can help kids realize their full potential. The research is clear: active kids aren’t only healthier, they also benefit socially, at school – they find it easier to concentrate, their behavior improves, and activity can even have a positive impact on academic results – and in life.
But today’s kids are the least active in history. If we’re going to reverse that trend, kids need safe places to play, inclusive sports programs to join, and a community that supports them. That’s why Nike is teaming up with schools and other organizations to get more kids active and build a better sense of community all over the world. This is part of our commitment – Made to Play. It represents the universal truth that we discovered in talking to kids all around the world. There aren’t kids who love to move and kids who don’t, all kids love to play – they’re made to play.
What exactly are you doing to turn this vision into action?
JC: It all starts with a focus on kids. Kids are at the center of our efforts. We work hand in hand with passionate partners and experts in helping to get kids moving: Play International in France, Kids Run Free in the UK and the Krajicek Foundation in the Netherlands. We also engage Nike’s own employees across Europe, and around the world. They are our not-so-secret weapon to inspire kids to get moving. They’re passionate about sport, and they love to pass that on to the next generation. Through our “Nike Community Ambassador” program, we give them the training and the time they need to be great coaches and role models for kids in their own communities week in, week out. Now we have thousands of employees across Europe doing just that. Our “Nike Community Impact Funds” in the Netherlands, Belgium and Barcelona make the most of our employees’ knowledge of where they live and work, by giving them the chance to direct our investments to community sports organizations.
City leaders are often left out of the process when trying to develop physical activity plans, despite the fact that they can be quite influential in helping to get their constituents moving. How can this be addressed?
JC: Today’s generation of kids are the least active ever, and some estimates even suggest they have a lower life expectancy than us, their parents. As a father, I find that shocking. As someone working to get kids active, it means I know that we need as many people as possible working on this issue – from government, business and local community organizations. Given the ongoing pace of urbanization around the world, city leaders have a huge role to play in creating the future environments for sport and activity – from shaping infrastructure to providing inspiration motivation and opportunities to be active. The great news is more and more leaders are taking this challenge very seriously – from Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has a clear vision for sport in London to Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s commitment to ensuring the 2024 Olympics supports grassroots sport and play for all. Working together, I’m truly excited about what we can achieve, and how we can unleash the power of sport to transform lives.