With all the euphoria surrounding the Olympics, an in-depth analysis of every sport and its participants has been undertaken. We hear how the majority of British Olympians are public school graduates, how funding is divided amongst the sports and what barriers there are to the continuing growth of sports participation after the games.
When we hear of sporting achievements we hear of opportunities. Opportunities to train with this famous sports person or at this brilliant facility. What we don’t hear are the barriers that were placed in people’s lives. We don’t hear of the precocious eight-year-old who was asked to leave the athletics club because he couldn’t focus on what he was doing, or the young gymnast who just didn’t live in the right area to receive the training she needed.
When we talk about poverty, we have to talk about barriers. Growing up in poverty means there are barriers at every step. Being able to have an education is often blocked because children are expected to provide a school uniform and school materials, even in countries where there is free primary education. And that is for those whose family can allow their children to go to school and not have to work to support the meagre income of their parents.
As we continue to look at the photographs taken by Compassion students around the world, we turn to this; an image of a barrier. We don’t know why the student thought this was worthy of taking, but they did. May I suggest that they recognised the barriers in their own life, but they also recognise the hope that being a sponsored child and receiving the teachings and benefits of participating in a Compassion project brings.