Established in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) is dedicated to providing access to physical activity and fostering personal growth and community building for refugees.

Through their sports programs in refugee camps, young people can find a sense of belonging, form friendships, and build confidence. The impact of these initiatives extends far beyond the camps, contributing to broader social integration and personal development.

The formation of the Olympic Refugee Team, first introduced at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and expanded in subsequent games, symbolizes the global recognition of refugee athletes and their potential to excel on the world stage. This team not only highlights the talents of refugee athletes but also brings attention to their resilience and determination.

The foundation’s commitment extends beyond elite athletes, as demonstrated by projects like Terrains d’Avenir. Launched in partnership with the French Ministry of Sports, this program aims to integrate displaced youth into French society through sports, offering organized activities regardless of administrative status or language proficiency.

Women and girls often face additional barriers to participation in sports, including cultural norms and gender-based discrimination. The ORF addresses these challenges through targeted interventions and inclusive programming, breaking down barriers and empowering women and girls to reclaim their agency and pursue their aspirations.

The Olympic Refuge Foundation continues to champion the transformative power of sport, providing opportunities for personal growth, fostering community spirit, and advocating for the rights and potential of refugees worldwide.

Source: The Olympic Refuge Foundation Provides Hope Through Sport – The Borgen Project

Yoga and Sport with Refugees (YSR) provides a safe and welcoming environment for refugees, especially women, to engage in sports and build community amidst the challenging conditions on Lesbos.

The infamous Moria camp, notorious for its deplorable conditions and rampant insecurity, symbolized the dire situation faced by refugees. Although efforts have been made to improve conditions, the new temporary facility in Mavrovouni, Lesbos, still faces significant challenges. Access to essential resources remains limited, exacerbating mental health issues among residents.

YSR aims to foster a sense of community, resilience, and integration through sports activities in refugee camps on Lesbos. Offering a variety of activities, from cardio and bodybuilding to parkour and acro yoga, YSR provides a safe space for refugees. In 2022 alone, YSR’s gyms saw over 40,000 visits, highlighting the positive impact of these initiatives.

Central to YSR’s success is its diverse team of coaches, many of whom are refugees themselves. Research underscores the importance of coaches sharing similar life experiences with participants, as this connection not only facilitates physical engagement but also provides mentorship and understanding of the refugees’ journeys and struggles.

Through its comprehensive approach, YSR continues to empower refugees, offering not just physical activity, but also a sense of belonging and hope in a challenging environment.

Source: Yoga and Sport with Refugees in Lesvos – BORGEN (borgenmagazine.com)

Save the Dream, in partnership with Qatar Charity, the Qatar Fund for Development, and UNESCO, is pioneering a groundbreaking project in Somalia. This initiative uses sports to empower youth, particularly vulnerable groups such as refugees, and foster peace and reconciliation.

With the support of Athlete Ambassadors like Alessandro Del Piero and Tegla Chepkite Loroupe, Save the Dream operates at the intersection of sports, education, and social justice. The project aims to equip local communities with the tools to use sport as a vehicle for peacebuilding and development.

Extensive training and technical support empower local stakeholders, including coaches, educators, and youth leaders, to become agents of change within their communities. This approach ensures the long-term sustainability of the initiative.

A remarkable aspect of this initiative is its focus on gender equality and the empowerment of female refugees. By providing opportunities for girls to engage in sports, the program promotes not only physical health but also confidence and resilience.

Local champions of change are equipped with the knowledge and skills to implement sport-based activities that promote peace and inclusion. Schools and grassroots organizations become hubs that offer safe spaces for children, including refugees, to experience the transformative power of sport.

Through these efforts, Save the Dream continues to foster community cohesion, resilience, and hope, proving that sport can be a powerful catalyst for positive change in even the most challenging environments

Source: Saving children’s dreams in Somalia through sport | sportanddev

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