Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2009

When I started Right To Play, the biggest focus was to provide as many children as possible with access to our child-centered, play-based programs. Then, there were 37,000 children in our programs. Now, 15 years later, we’re reaching over one million children every single week. This evolution has created many changes, including one for me. Last summer, I shifted into a strategic planning and fundraising role to help shape the development of our programs, while expanding our donor network. This has allowed Kevin Frey to step into the role of CEO. This transition has also allowed me to focus on setting and achieving new goals to strengthen our work.

One of these goals is to significantly increase the number of children and young people we reach over the next three years. By entering the classrooms of schools in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, we are making great strides in this direction. We are empowering teachers to learn our play-based methodologies and tailor their lesson plans and classroom demands to the needs of the students—all to engage more children in a quality education. Because of generous and unwavering support all over the world, we see the impact our work is having in our programs in 20 countries. Our supporters are helping us transform children’s lives to overcome adversity, keep themselves safe and healthy, build stronger relationships and stay in school. My work continues to focus on constant evolution and positive change in children's lives to enable them to become changemakers themselves.

    This description of Johann Olav Koss's work was prepared when Johann Olav Koss was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
    Through "Right To Play," an athlete-driven international organization, Johann Olav Koss is working with children, youth and adult coaches in some of the most difficult circumstances in the world, such as refugee camps. His programs aim at bringing about behavioral changes and enhancing children's holistic development through the medium of sport and other games. Having expanded his programs to 23 countries, Johann is now leveraging his experience and organizational capacity by working with the UN to include sports in the Millennium Development Goals, and by helping national governments include sport in their social development policies.
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