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It all began with a boy in a long sleeve t-shirt…

It was only a few months before the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, when Norwegian speed skater Johann Olav Koss led a humanitarian trip to the newly formed African country of Eritrea. There, he came face-to-face with the realities of life in a country emerging from decades of war.

As children played amidst burned out tanks, surrounded by the images of war martyrs, one boy stood out and crystallized an idea for Johann that would write the future of Right To Play:

He met the President of Eritrea and said, ‘You need food and I have brought sports equipment. I made a mistake. I’m sorry.’ The President looked at Johann and said, ‘This is the greatest gift we have ever received. For the first time, we are being treated like human beings–not just something to be kept alive. For the first time, my children can play like any child.’

For Johann it felt like the starting point for something bigger. Since then, the power of play has helped millions of children to rise and recapture hope.

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