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Right To Play is a global organization that attempts to teach children in need with educational games. It was founded in 2000 by Olympic gold medalist Johann Olav Koss,
Right To Play's programs are facilitated by more than 14,900 local volunteer coaches and more than 620 international staff.
Working in both the humanitarian and development context, Right To Play builds local capacity by training community leaders as coaches to deliver its programs in 18 countries affected by war, poverty, and disease in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North America.
Right To Play is headquartered in Toronto, Canada and has national offices in Canada, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The national offices raise funds, build awareness for Right To Play programs and advocate for play based learning.
Between 1994 and 2000, Right to Play, formerly Olympic Aid, continued to raise funds for children in disadvantaged situations, building on the momentum of subsequent Olympic Games. In 1996, Olympic Aid formed a partnership with UNICEF and raised $13 million US prior to and during the Games in Atlanta. The funds assisted UNICEF in vaccinating approximately 12.2 million children and more than 800,000 women.
This vaccination effort was extraordinary as it resulted in temporary Olympic Truces in Afghanistan and the Kurdish region in northern Iraq. All fighting stopped in the regions so the UNICEF staff could safely immunize the children and women of these areas.
With its incorporation in late 2000, Olympic Aid (which became Right To Play) made the transition from “fundraising vehicle” to implementing Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). In March 2001, the first sport and play programs began in refugee communities in Angola and Côte d'Ivoire.
During the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Olympic Aid hosted a Roundtable Forum entitled “Healthier, Safer, Stronger: Using Sport for Development to build a brighter future for children worldwide”. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan gave the keynote address while global leaders in health, sport and development participated in a moderated discussion of the role of sport in relation to four development issues: vaccination, tobacco-free sport, HIV and AIDS prevention and the rehabilitation of refugees. With participants including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, the Olympic Aid Roundtable placed Sport for Development firmly on the UN agenda.