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SQUASH FOR DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE. CONTINENT: NORTH AMERICA

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As part of International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on April 6th, we are taking a look at the programmes we support all over the world, with today’s piece focussing on the continent of North America. So far there are two squash programmes the PSA Foundation have partnered with in North America that both use squash to improve quality of life in underserved communities.

In the USA, squash is comparatively popular compared to other countries internationally as a recreational sport. For a nation that hosts a lot of the major PSA Tour tournaments, the USA is however known to lose players at a professional level from college scholarships and luring players into alternative career paths. 4.2% of the PSA Tour is represented by the USA, 2.8% by Canada and 1.7% by Mexico.


SQUASH PARA TODOS – EL SALVADOR

Squash Para Todos are an urban squash programme located in El Salvador, who aim to use squash to create new opportunities to the underserved communities in San Salvador. Their main objectives are orientated around reducing poverty, seeking a good quality education and supporting good health and wellbeing for the population they serve around them in El Salvador.

Using squash, education and the development of specific skills, their programme seeks to upskill their students and support them on their path towards achieving the goals they aspire to reach both academically, athletically and occupationally.

Squash Para Todos have found many ways to help achieve their objects over the years, none more so impressive than their innovative ways of introducing squash to communities. In collaboration with sPorts reimaGined, the programme has been working hard to create new versions of squash courts in different areas of the communities, including public schools, see the video below.

Since the pandemic, Squash Para Todos have taken these outdoor court conceptions to the next level, creating a pioneering outdoor squash complex that allows the sport to continue under current restrictions. While the 4 court facility that can be seen in the video below lends perfectly to current restrictions by bringing the sport outdoors, it was a long term plan of Founder and Executive Director Carlos Schonenberg. Sessions are now underway on the court, the start of a journey introducing squash to many local children. The creation of these courts has sparked huge interest in bring the sport outdoors to improve its accessibility and awareness, Carlos appearing at the recent Squash Summit 2021 delivering a talk on the concept as a way forward for the sport.


ACCESS YOUTH ACADEMY – USA

A recent partner programme with the PSA Foundation, Access Youth Academy was created in 2006 to transform the lives of underserved youth through academic mentorship and urban squash in San Diego, California. In a 12-year commitment that begins in 7th grade, Access students embark on a curriculum of intellectual, physical, and social development where academic enrichment, sports training, and financial support combine to help them realize their full potential. The video below gives you a good idea of how much the programme means to the children who take part.

The stats speak for themselves on the beneficial impact Access Youth Academy has on the lives of the juniors they support, with a 100% graduation rate from High School and 100% College acceptance rate. Not only do they produce academic success, but also boast 13 national title wins in squash across different age groups and $8.6m worth of student earned scholarships at College.

To find out more about Access Youth Academy, visit their site here: https://accessyouthacademy.org/#

Access Youth Academy are part of a network of highly influential ‘Urban Squash Programmes’ that can be seen across the USA under the banner of the Squash and Education Alliance (SEA). SEA’s network is 21 programmes strong, all providing year-round, long-term support to young people who deserve and desire more. That means in squash, academics, through mentoring, College applications, career support and more.

You can find out more about SEA here: https://squashandeducation.org/