As featured in MORE Magazine, May 2012
What makes Clara Hughes smile? Olympic glory, to be sure, but so does a group of Malian children. On a recent trip to one of the poorest regions of Africa, Canada`s two-sport superstar stepped away from her rigorous training regimen to embrace her role as an athlete ambassador.
Chanting “right to play,” the children of Ouroun, Mali welcome Hughes to their village where she helps fund a literacy program for young adults.
Children take a break during Right To Play “games,” dynamic exercises that teach lessons about teamwork and disease protection.
For a Malian girl, simply learning to dribble a basketball challenges cultural norms.
Hughes relaxes after shooting hoops with Malian teens.
A young girl holds hands with her new Canadian friend.
In a typically overcrowded Malian classroom, Ouroun students double up at desks while others —known as “outside children” — lean in through open windows.
Instilling the seeds of inclusion and gender equality through sports sparks Hughes’ passion.
After a cooking and nutrition lesson for mothers and children, a boy carries home a bowl of porridge.