Kristen Bell Lends Her Voice to “Courage First” Abuse Prevention Program from The Foundation for Global Sports Development

Los Angeles, CA – When The Foundation for Global Sports Development (GSD) honored survivors of abuse in sports with the Humanitarian Award in Los Angeles this past April, the organization committed $1 million in funds towards the creation of an abuse prevention and education program. The program is titled “Courage First” as a tribute to the courage shown by all athletes who are survivors of abuse and the women who spoke out against Larry Nassar and Doug Boger. Courage First is set to launch in spring of 2019.

Courage First garnered the attention of actress Kristen Bell, who has provided a video introduction that will be included in presentations to children and teens. In her video message to teens, Bell acknowledges youth may find themselves in difficult situations and encourages them to feel empowered in those moments. “There may be adults or peers who do not respect your personal space. People may cross a boundary or make you feel uncomfortable.” Bell continues, “There is no level of discomfort or fear that should ever be tolerated.”

In addition to teaching youth about personal safety, boundaries, and how to respond when a friend or teammate discloses abuse, Courage First will also focus on educating adults. In working closely with survivors of abuse, GSD board members realized that for a prevention program to be successful, adults and youth must both be educated.

“So many programs put the focus on teaching youth about abuse,” said Dr. Steven Ungerleider, GSD Executive Board Member. He continued, “However, many of the young women Nassar abused disclosed their abuse to adults and nothing was done. Even worse, they were ignored or not believed.”

David Ulich, GSD Executive Board Member, said, “With Courage First we are taking a comprehensive approach to education. Empowering youth with knowledge is important, but it is equally critical to provide adults with the tools they need to prevent abuse from happening and to respond swiftly and appropriately in the event abuse does occur.”

Courage First will offer in-person, facilitator-led presentations for children and teens, while adults will access their learning tools online. To maintain contact with participating youth organizations, GSD is developing various online tools to keep adults informed and engaged, such as resources, podcasts, newsletters, videos, and more.

To develop Courage First, GSD joined forces with survivors of abuse and Childhelp, a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse. In addition to Kristen Bell’s video messages, the youth presentations will include videos of survivors discussing their own experiences. “I wish I could go back in time and experience Courage First,” said Megan Halicek, a Sister Survivor whose video will be featured in the program. She continued, “It would have given me the confidence and knowledge I needed as a teenager experiencing abuse. This program is undeniably important and has the power to change every life it comes in contact with.”

The program will be introduced just after the premiere of the documentary “At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal.” Produced by GSD’s media division, Sidewinder Films, and directed by Erin Lee Carr, the film delves into the abuse scandals that have pervaded USA gymnastics and other sports institutions over the years. Recently acquired by HBO, “At the Heart of Gold” takes a closer look at a culture that allowed predators like Larry Nassar to harm hundreds of young girls. With the film and the program, GSD hopes to increase awareness and vigilance among adults to make sport safer for youth.

To learn more about Courage First, visit

About Global Sports Development

Working closely with international sports federations, generous donors and committed athletes, The Foundation for Global Sports Development promotes sportsmanship, education, fair play and ethics among the world’s youth. The Foundation gives special emphasis to groups and communities that are most in need or most underserved by current programs, including women, minorities and youth in areas where the risk of delinquency is particularly high. Visit to learn more.


About Sidewinder Films

The Foundation for Global Sports Development founded Sidewinder Films, a 501(c)3 film production company, to use the medium of film to convey its mission to a broader audience. Sidewinder Films seeks educate the public regarding important social issues through films which touch lives, tell remarkable stories, and create a lasting impact. Sidewinder Films offers a creative avenue to provide educational programs through film. Visit to learn more.