by Erika E.
Throughout all cultures we see a difference within all aspects of life, but when it comes to youth there are some extremes and some rare similarities. When specifically looking at recreation and sport, there are some cultures that value unstructured play and hard work and other cultures, such as South America, that tend to put emphasis on sport and team building1. These two cultures both have many positive aspects on child and youth development but may also have negative implications.
I took a look at Ghana and tried to understand how similar and different their culture and our Western culture are. When reading about adolescence in Ghana, in the International Encyclopedia of Adolescence, it seems that health risk and gender distinctions seem to be prevailing factors youth1. Most children struggle with tobacco and alcohol use, 19% of adolescents smoke and another 14% had tried cigarettes before1. In comparison, Statistics Canada shows that only 4% of Canadian youth smoke and 13% have ever tried it2. Therefore, are we able to associate this with how much children are being exposed to tobacco use or is it due to the education and prevention that our Western culture has been working hard at? This may include sport and recreation; if we are able to keep youth active and healthy, they may be less likely to smoke or use alcohol. As I am sure most of the regions and communities in Ghana are not oblivious to the idea of sport and recreation being a positive influence, but there may not be much time or money for organized sports and activities. If they would be able to implement this or educate parents about the importance of play, maybe the percentage of youth smoking would decrease.
Now, when it comes to gender distinction in Ghana, there seems to be a lot of separation. In our Western culture we are used to attending the same school and even participating in sport with the other-sex. In Ghana there seems to be the separation of genders at an early age, and are taught gender specific roles1. In some parts of the country boys and girls go to different school due to the fear of sexual immortality1. This does not allow girls and boys to play together, and if the youth is not used to how each individual thinks and acts; how are the youth expected to know how to interact with each other when it comes time for marriage? Within Canadian culture, we are expected to play with both boys and girls on most sports teams, in early childhood, are mixed teams. This encourages interpersonal skills, problem solving with other-sex and the understanding of the other-sex.
I was directed to this video that encouraged me to write this blog post. I think that it is important for us to start to really realize the important things in life, and for me one of them is education and the other is sport. I grew up with a good amount of structured and unstructured play that has allowed me to become the person I am today. If we would have grown up in a country like Ghana who knows where we would be; would we still be sitting in this classroom becoming tomorrow’s leaders in sport and recreation or would we be living in a country with a potential lower socioeconomic status and doing everything we can to provide for our family? We simply need to think about all the good that play, recreation and sport have brought to our lives, and why not help make the world of recreation and sport a better place by including more people in countries all over the world.
Video (First World Problems Read by Third World Kids): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tppYR2ua6w
- Arnett, J.J. (2007). Ghana. In International Encyclopedia of Adolescence. (Vol. 1, p. 344-353). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group.
- Statistics Canada. (2014). Summary of Results of the youth Smoking Survey. Retrieved from: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/tobac-tabac/research-recherche/stat/_survey-sondage_2012-2013/result-eng.php