Throughout Lebanon, sport- and play-based activities are used to develop children's intellect. It helps them focus on and build observation skills and it teaches them to experiment, strategize, evaluate and make decisions. Learning through sports is also a psychosocial support activity, enabling displaced and refugee populations to reduce war and post-war trauma.
Our Sports for Peace Enhancement between Syrian Refugees and their Lebanese Host Community project addresses these issues—all while promoting integration with host communities and developing leadership skills.
"I was searching for an opportunity to help the community," affirms Yasmine El Sakhnini, a 24-year-old mother who fled Syria with her family and is now settled in southern Beirut's Burj El Barajneh Refugee Camp where she is an enthusiastic volunteer Coach for this project. "When I was introduced to Right To Play's program on Sport For Development I couldn't refuse! It was just what I was waiting for—to help the children in the camp overcome their war traumas."
For these kids, a game of basketball is more than a little on-the-court-action, it's a way of living.
"I have never in my life encountered children with such joy in their hearts despite the circumstances they are passing through," she says. "I can't even put into words this feeling, but I know it's breathtaking."
The experience of playing on a sports team proactively affects their development as a person. From cooperation and communication to goal setting and teamwork, the benefits of sports for children and youth are incredibly widespread. By developing a generation of children with improved behaviours, awareness and education, their learnings about disease prevention and hygiene, problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills positively impact their families, friends and community.
"These kids are my hope and my heroes," says Yasmine. "They don't have much and yet they still show very wide, beaming smiles! They just have this basketball court. Some of them don't even have shoes, but they don't complain and love the game of basketball."