Nina de Winter
Yoga and Sport with Refugees
Recently our project expanded to Athens and we are super motivated to grow our community there and take our project to the next phase. Where the project on Lesvos is focused on temporary stress relieve and building physcial and mental well-being of refugees, the project in Athens has a strong focus on community leadership, inclusion, skills building and creating a network of sports clubs and organizations beyond Athens to strengthen cohesion and build sustainable community leadership.
Athens (& Lesbos, but focus on Athens) + we hope to be able to expand to Ioannina
There are a lot of refugees living in Greece and coming to Greece since 2015. It is a major challenge in Greece to integrate them in the local society and build a future for them. The integration process is difficult and the refugees are not accepted by everyone. Besides the refugees come from completely different cultural backgrounds and have to get to know the Greek society. Sport is an amazing tool for inclusion and to overcome differences. Besides it is the way to build mental and physical health, build skills and gain self confidence. This combined makes sport a great way to build a strong community and help tackle this important societal challenge faced by the country, and especially Attica region since many refugees are here and there is a lack of social cohesion.
Our primary target group is the refugee community living in Athens (and on Lesvos and hopefully soon in Ioannina). We want to help them to build skills for their future, build their mental and physical health and find ways to integrate them into society. However, this could never be realized if we don't actively involve the Greek community to join our classes and do sport with us. We are building cooperations with other actors and local sport clubs so we can directly connect and build a great community of people with all different backgrounds united through sport. Our refugee community is in the lead, they are the coordinators, the teachers, the trainers.
In September 2020 we expanded our project to Athens. Expanding to Athens came as an ideal opportunity to develop YSR further and to extend our community to Athens. YSR in Athens provides continuity in the community built on Lesvos, or a new community for people who join in Athens. We have been carrying out the project on a similar scale in Lesvos for over three years, so we are sure we offer the right programming and we have experience in how to organize it.
Step 1: Train our current coaches and coordinators via a teach the teacher training for them to become more professional and learn how to build social cohesion through their sport classes (planned May 2021, 1 more in 2021)
Step 2: Actively reaching out to sport clubs and organizations first in Athens and then outside Athens to build the network (already started in March 2021, but progresses slowly because of the current lockdown)
Step 3: Building an online platform to connect the different sports organizations and share best practices on building inclusion and promoting community leadership through sports. (As soon as funding allows us to)
Step 4: Writing a handbook for wider dissemination (one year after start)
At the same time: growing the project, connecting to other like-minded organizations, joining in the local sports competitions and supporting our best athletes and teachers to join local sports clubs.
1: Our community coaches, teachers and coordinators will have the skills and certification to teach in a professional gym or to find a job in the local job market.
2: We have created a strong community of local people and people with a refugee background resulting in ever lasting friendships.
3: We have created a platform with sports organizations and clubs that support inclusion and community leadership and we actively use the platform to learn from each other and to open our sports clubs to anyone in our communities.
4: We have used the best practices to create a handbook that can be disseminated.
Final result: we have shown the power of the refugees and connected them to locals, making integration easier and smoother.
The main things we do through our project is building skills and connecting communities with different backgrounds, making integration easier. We are building bridges through sport and break with ethnic and national backgrounds. In fact we are using sport to show there are no differences and we are all strong, passionate, and capable. We teach leadership skills and pedagogy to our teachers and train our coordination team. We do this through informal education but also through formal certification and training. The network creates a strong voice for inclusion and will help our community members to find their way in society wherever they go. We all know how important it is to have a start from where you can find your way into a new society, our project can offer this.
Estelle Jean founded the organization in 2017. She started with one goal: sharing her passion for sport and helping refugees stranded on Lesvos to release stress and work on mental and physical health. She is involved in the migration crisis in Greece since 2016, speaks Farsi almost fluently and has been on Lesvos for 4 years now.
In Athens, the “on the ground” coordination team consists of Sohaila, Aref and Ali. They have full responsibility on the ground in Athens. They are all from the refugee community and former teachers.
Nina de Winter is co-director and running coach, she has a background in education policy.
Aisling O'sullivan is involved in the project since 2 months and is responsible for starting to build the network.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
For one year:
Community leadership: 6750 (250 euros per coordinator per month)
Skills development: 2300 (per training, already 1 planned and financed, 1 more to be organized)
Teacher support: 4900 (50 euros per teacher per month)
Outside activities and competitions: 3000 (500 per event)
Platform: 5000 (online platform building + renumeration)
Handbook including dissemination event in Athens: 2500 (printing, PR, event, renumeration work)
How can we work together to connect sport organizations and actively involve the local Greek community? How do we grow our network and impact to show the importance of sport to create cohesion and as a tool for inclusion? How can we improve the skills building of our teachers and coordination team?