With 40 young Senegalese girls and boys looking on, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in Dakar on Wednesday a new collaboration between the Government of Canada and Right To Play that will create a landmark new program in Senegal — our first program in the country.

“As we gather here today with organizations like Right To Play and SEEDs, we know the impact we can have as a society by empowering our young people,” said Prime Minister Trudeau at the event. “I want to thank Right To Play, who are doing extraordinary work. This collaboration between Canada and Right To Play will have emphasis on the capacity of girls to play sport.”

Since 2002, Right To Play reached 1.4 million children in seventeen African countries with Canadian-Government–supported programs that protect, empower, and educate children through the power of play. Half of the children in our programs are girls.

This landmark new program will harness the power of play to strengthen girls’ life and leadership skills, and support them to be active agents of change in their lives, their communities, and society. The program will be implemented in partnership with SEED Project, a Senegalese sport-for-development organization founded by NBA Africa Vice-President and Right To Play board member Amadou Gallo Fall that provides girls with a supportive environment where they can build life and leadership skills.

“Girls are crucial advocates for change in their communities. But, too often, their voices aren’t heard, and they’re discouraged from leadership roles,” said Right To Play CEO Kevin Frey. “This generous support from the Government of Canada will allow us to work with a leading local organization to build on the work that’s already happening through Senegal’s National Strategy for Equity and Gender Equality and empower girls to dismantle barriers to their success, and claim their rights and be heard.”

Justin Trudeau in Senegal
Kevin Frey, Right To Play CEO, addresses crowd.

While Senegal has experienced high rates of development in the past decade, it still ranks as one of the least developed countries globally. Girls experience persistent barriers to education and empowerment, and often struggle to reach their full potential.

Justin Trudeau in Senegal

“This program develops young African leaders through education, leadership, and women’s empowerment. It allowed me to know myself, helped me to have the skills of confidence and be strong woman. It allowed me to defend fervently young sexual health and gender equality,” said Aita Ndiaye, who joined the SEEDs program as a youth and who recently graduated from high school with a business degree.

Aita Ndiaye - Justin Trudeau in Senegal

“We’re extremely excited and grateful for this partnership with Right To Play and the Government of Canada that will contribute to the scaling of more programs in Senegal,” said Amadou Gallo Fall, founder of SEEDs, Right To Play board member, and Vice-President and Managing Director, NBA Africa.

Kevin Frey, Amadou Gall Fall, Masai Ujiri
From left to right: Masai Ujiri, Kevin Frey, and Amadou Gallo Fall.

The announcement was attended by the Canadian Ambassador to Senegal, Minister Ahmed Hussen, Raptors President Masai Ujiri, Canadian Olympic Women’s basketball team player Kayla Alexander, members of Canada Basketball and the Canadian Olympic Committee, and leaders in the Senegalese and African sport communities.