An Interview with Open Boundaries by Aisha Ali-Khan
What is Opening Boundaries and why did you set it up?
We are a not for profit sporting organisation working globally to use the power of sport as a tool for peace, whilst raising the awareness of positive health and gender-based violence. Using the power of sport we want people to achieve these two main aspirations.
- To provide women and girls with the opportunity to take part in sport and physical activity, regardless of their background.
- To educate society on the benefits of positive health and creating an equal world free of gender-based violence in sport.
Our mission is to use sport as an educational engagement platform to inspire more people to reach their full potential. We will provide them with the necessary resources and support to succeed in making the world a more safe and equal society to live in.
Initially, we only set up a campaign known as “Bowling Out Domestic Violence” where we used the power of Cricket to raise awareness of Women in sport and violence against women and girls. We set out to work predominately within the South Asian community due to both areas been a taboo subject. From this it became evident on the strength of using Sport and the values its stands for to create further programmes in educating society and at the same time improve the physical, mental and social well-being of people leading to a healthier lifestyle. It’s a win-win situation!
How many people have you helped and can you tell us about their stories?
As an official organisation we have only been set up under 6 months and the impact over that time has been phenomenal. We have delivered workshops around women in sport and equality to over 100 people both male and females. We have delivered a national event attracting over 500 people and most importantly engaging with communities to stand with us and take the pledge to support our cause. We recently visited Greece with Moonlight Trust charity where we created a partnership with a refugee sports team to use sport for peace. Our work this year will be on-going at a community level and we have 3 major events planned to take place in London, Leicester and a tour to Kenya all in aid to raising awareness of women in sport and issues of gender based violence. Finally, we have partnered with a national charity White Ribbon UK who is the largest movement of men speaking up to end violence against women and girls to spread our message to a range of audiences.
The challenges of individuals vary, from people not having the opportunities to take part in sport due to cultural and societal barriers to organisations not knowing how to fully engage with diverse communities and raising the sensitive issues of GBV. A key part of our role will be to create safe and inclusive environment which encourage people to come forward and be able to express themselves through sport and open up positive dialogue without been judged. We will also be linking with the necessary series on issues of gender-based violence and signpost people to these services where needed.
Tell us about yourself and your Journey?
I am Bradford born and bred, love my city and the diversity we have here. My journey in sports started around ten years ago, where i took part in a six-month government funded programme as part of Bradford Council to be a Sports Activator. An activator was someone who goes out into the community and delivers sports & physical activity for all. From there I then qualified myself in a variety of sport with cricket always being a passion of mine! I experiences first hand some of the challenges around engaging with diverse communities and wanted to use sport as a vehicle for social change such as equality and peace. This drove me setting up Opening Boundaries with my co-founder Ikram Butt and here I am today working on a global scale to promote these much needed issues where i can. There is still more to do however we are making progress and i believe the bigger and the louder we can champion the cause the further the effect will be felt.
What message would you like to send your readership?
Never underestimate the power of any single human being, it doesn’t matter who we are or where we are from, anyone who has the desire and will to make a change can do just that.
Find out more at https://www.openingboundariesofficial.org/
Article by Aisha Ali Khan for Asian Mums Network
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