The International Medalist Association
A brief history
The International Medalist Association (IMA), which is a non government organization in Conakry, Guinea was founded by Olympian, Ron Freeman in 2010. He is recognized internationally and is acknowledged for his work in promoting sports activities as a tool to provide life skills training to thousands of youth internationally.
The vision of the IMA is to use recreational sports in after- school programs with the focus on girls to enhance their positive youth socialization. The goal of the programs is to impact girls by providing them with an outlet for recreational activities that teaches them life skills through playing games. Moreover, IMA has created a vehicle for girls from ages 7 - 17 to be able to be involved in an organized competitive program. Participants are exposed to many learning opportunities that enrich their social skills, maturity, and career building.
Through the Mixed Sports Program where girls and boys play football and basketball on the same team, they learn about gender equality and team building. Discussions coordinated by mentor coaches sharpen their leadership skills and assigned tasks help them understand the importance of accountability and responsibility. To date, 18,000 girls and boys are registered in more than 200 primary and secondary schools nationally.
In its Books for Schools Program, IMA has provided thousands of dollars worth of books that assist schools in maintaining their libraries. In the Educational Scholarship Program (ESP), girls receive scholarships to advance their primary and secondary school education. Scholarship funds assist families to pay for tuition, uniform, books, and supplies. These and other programs, serve students in more than 200 schools. The majority of these student’s – 95% - are girls. Trained volunteer mentors and coaches have direct knowledge of the conditions experienced by these youth. They interact with them and establish long-term relationships. Through their direct work with 18,000 students, these same students in turn indirectly impact the lives of more than 300,000 other youth – their friends, relatives, neighbors, and peers – with who they are in contact.
Ron is an Olympic Gold & Bronze Medal winner. He ran the fastest 400 meter race ever run ( 43.2) at the 1968 Olympic Games, setting the longest standing world record in the 4x400 meter relay team (2:56.11), which stood for more than 25 years. Ron learned to over come the odds at an early age, he weighed less than four pounds at birth and at sixteen year's old he become the #1 high school athlete in the world in the 440 yard dash running 46.6 on a cinder track.
Ron has spent more than 30 years implementing educational support activities for after-school programs, sports camps and training programs for coaches around the world. He designed Youth Peace programs in Mali and Guinea for the United States Department of State and the United Nations. He has also been supported on numerous occasions by the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee and the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESO). In 2009, Ron was the first American to receive the JAPPO Humanitarian Award in Senegal for the work that he has done over the years in Africa. The prestigious JAPPO award is presented to individuals or organizations for promoting sport in Africa.
Unemployment is high in Guinea’s 16 to 35 year-old age group. Hence, it is important to include them in International Medalist Association programs. Individuals in this age group compose a sizeable majority of the organization’s junior staff. They receive training in order for them to become good managers, program facilitators, mentors and coaches. Professional advancement skills acquisition is supported by Rice Youth Development organization, a non profit organization in the United States. More than 150 jobs have been created through this initiative along with job training programs.
Through this recreational After School Program, it is hoped that those intrinsic values that one learns through these games, will enhance the life skills of those youth involved.