Bridging the Gaps… Through Ultimate Frisbee!

Originally published at help2grow.org.

Bridging the Gaps (BTG) is a unique camp that seeks to transform children through sport and art. Held annually, BTG brings together underprivileged kids from all around India to play Ultimate Frisbee. But Frisbee is just the mode of delivery — it is the life changing lessons on leadership, accountability, creativity and cultural/ gender diversity imparted to the kids that make this camp so special.

BTG is run by four very passionate people who have a background in Sport / Arts with a social bent. The latest camp in May 2015 was run in Ahmedabad and had 120 kids from the ages of 12–16 participate. The organisers raised money from all around the world to fund the camp cost and the kids’ transportation costs. Through the 5 days, the organisers along with the Youth Leaders (return participants of the camp) and Coaches (many were under-23 India team players) facilitated workshops in art, movement, gender awareness and teamwork. Oh, and they also played Ultimate Frisbee!

Why Ultimate Frisbee?

Ultimate Frisbee is a self-refereed sport, with all players taking personal accountability and settling arguments / foul play within themselves. It is gender agnostic, with both boys and girls participating side by side in teams. Ultimate Frisbee also has a unique concept of a Spirit Circle, where competing teams gather together after a match to do a debrief and to promote sportsmanship amongst one another. In Bridging the Gaps camps, the Coaches and Youth Leaders (who are also from similar communities as the children) work with them to teach them the game and help them improve their skills. In fact, the sport is so powerful in creating a constructive atmosphere that it has even been used in war torn, conflict zones to great success.

Kids playing Ultimate Frisbee. Source: BTG’s Facebook Group

About the Camp

The uniqueness of the camp comes from the fact that kids from all over the country come together in harmony, regardless of cultural or language barriers. The youth leaders and coaches work hard to build a strong team identity irrespective of these barriers through creating team names, logos, and t-shirts for their teams — here are some really interesting ones!

Ekta(unity in Hindi) erumbu (ant in Tamil)

Saccha (truth in Hindi) samam (equality in Tamil) simha ( lion in Kannada)

Natkhat (naughty in Gujrati) natpu (friendship in Tamil)

Hruday (heart) theni (honey bee) dost (friend in Hindi)

Chiti chiti (ant in Hindi) boom boom

Frooty (FRiendship, “oo” are written like a heart -for love, uniTY)

Tukanaam (Weaver bird in Tamil) majeti (fun in Marathi)

Surusuruppu(active in Tamil) madhumakki (honey bee in Hindi)

Otrudo (otrumai- unity in Tamil and dosti- friendship in Hindi)

Kids designing their own logos and t-shirts
Source: BTG’s Facebook Group
Kids designing their own logos and t-shirts
Source: BTG’s Facebook Group

While the mornings and evenings are spent in Frisbee and dancing, a large portion of the day is spent learning about gender equality, sex education and associated myths. Boys are taught about what happens to a woman when she is menstruating — this is something they never learn about in school or at home and was eye opening, to say the least. Girls are exposed to the challenges that boys face, contrary to the popular perception that there is no male discrimination in our society.

Says a young girl, “ I never realised that even guys have problems…”

Gender perceptions and other myths on sex and menstruation are busted by faciliators from ProjectKHEL, an Indian NGO.

Impact — A Help2Grow Perspective

Help2Grow is proud to be a donor of the BTG camp held this May in Ahmedabad, India. Vikram, Help2Grow’s special correspondent visited the camp this year to see the impact on the kids first hand. He wasn’t disappointed. Read about it at Help2Grow’s blog, coming soon.

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