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Using sport as a development tool

Sara Nicholls is passionate about the power of sport as a catalyst for development. That passion has taken her everywhere from sports-for-development work in Africa and a master’s thesis in sports sociology, to participation in a groundbreaking United Nations youth leadership summit on sport for development and peace.

Nicholls, who completes her master’s in human kinetics with a collaborative program in women’s studies this spring, is a proponent of Kicking AIDS Out, an international network using peer education and sport to promote life skills and to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. Finally, thanks to a $20,000 fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, she’s also studying the potential of sport for building HIV/AIDS awareness among Aboriginal youth and women by learning from the experiences of female African peer educators.

“Sport alone is not the answer to the development challenges of our time,” observes Nicholls, named one of Canada’s most influential women in sport in the “Ones to Watch” category by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport and Physical Activity. “But when used as part of a holistic approach, sport has the potential to create an environment for positive social change, particularly on issues such as HIV/AIDS.”