Olympic gymnast Gabrielle Douglas and two fellow U.S. gymnasts have signed on as Athlete Ambassadors with Right To Play, an organization founded by Olympic speed skater Johann Olav Koss to help disadvantaged children around the world. Koss and his organization are this year’s recipient of the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Nonprofit Leadership.
Koss visited Claremont McKenna College in April to receive the award from its founders, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis ’67.
Douglas, a member of “The Fierce Five” who won a team gold medal at the Summer Olympics held in London last year, will serve as a Right To Play ambassador along with Olympic gymnasts and medalists Jonathan Horton and Alicia Sacramone, Right To Play announced earlier this month in a press release.
The announcement is part of a new, larger partnership between Right To Play and USA Gymnastics to bring the same kind of support to U.S. youth that Right To Play has been bringing to other countries since it was established in 2000.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this partnership can make a positive difference in the lives of disadvantaged youth in the United States,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “Gymnastics teaches the value of physical activity and many of the life skills needed to be healthy and achieve success.”
Koss added that his organization is “honored” and “excited” about a new effort “bridging disadvantaged communities in the U.S. with opportunities to experience sport and play specifically through gymnastics.” The partnership is slated to extend through 2016.
Douglas said she is excited to join Horton and Sacramone in inspiring children and boosting their sense of self and personal goals as they consider their futures. The three gymnasts will also serve as co-chairs of National Gymnastics Day, which will be held later this year on Sept. 21. They will also attend a Right To Play Gymnastics Festival, which will be held a week earlier, on Sept. 15, in Harlem.
“I have learned in the months since last summer that I can have a positive impact on kids and show that if you have drive and determination, you can accomplish big things,” Douglas said. “And, these two efforts will give me an added opportunity to share that message.”