They were on the wrong track for a while, but during the ‘Ajax Campus in the ‘hood’ social project, they showed a desire to make more of their lives. This driven attitude has given eight kids with a problem background from Amsterdam a trip to Switzerland. A trip that they will take under the guidance of the Laureus foundation, of which marketing director Edwin van der Sar is an ambassador.
Laureus Netherlands is a foundation with which Ajax collaborates in terms of social issues, in addition to housing corporation Ymere, the city of Haarlemmermeer , the city of Amsterdam, and the Axios foundation. Its mission is to ‘harness the power of sport to address social issues’, says manager Wendy Nagel. The foundation’s projects are aimed, among others, at kids with a disability, kids in problem neighborhoods and the integration of minorities.
One of the projects that Laureus is supporting is ‘Ajax Campus in the hood’. This is an initiative of the Axios foundation, which was set up in part by Ajax to stimulate positive behavior among Ajax supporters and young Amsterdammers who have behaviour problems and who are at a social disadvantage. Thanks to a school program, these kids are prepared for the labour market. Special football training, but especially social skills trainings are meant to change their relatively hopeless position in the labour market.
One of the goals is to help these kids get an internship afterwards. That’s what the Ajax Campus Network was set up for, and companies, public authorities and other establishments can become members in order to offer kids opportunities. “They get something great in return: they can be a part of the unique, compelling world of Ajax”, says financial director Jeroen Slop at the presentation.
Of the 250 kids who are participating in this project, eight will soon travel to Switzerland. They will do that under the guidance of the Laureus foundation, which will bring them on a three day gathering with organizations of the same name in all of Europe. These belong to Laureus’s international office, which was started up in 2000 and arrived in the Netherlands in 2009. The eight kids who are going on the trip, owe their selection to their commitment during the project. “They distinguished themselves in a good way. You can see it as a reward for their commitment”, says Wendy Nagel of Laureus.
It’s new that European offices also delegate children. In previous years, it was only Laureus managers who gathered. “Then they could only learn from each other, but now that’s true for the kids”, says Nagel, who will be discussing how social issues are handled with delegations from several countries. Bart Logchies (coach Ajax Saturday 1) and Johan Annema will also be present. They will make the trip on behalf of Ajax Campus, a social initiative from Ajax and the city of Amsterdam with similar goals as ‘Ajax Campus in the hood’.
The Amsterdam kids who will visit Switzerland with Nagel will come into contact with age counterparts from several countries, including Italy and Spain. The projects that they took part in are very different, but had the same goal: to give them some support. Nagel: “One of the important central topics is violence. Violence is a current topic here, and in other countries as well. By bringing kids in contact with each other, we hope that they’ll motivate each other. That will happen in part thanks to the clinics.”