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IURTS consortium reinforces that children only want to be heard and understood

By Katerina Salta and Anita Kiraly, ISCA

The third Integration of Ukrainian Refugee Children Through Sport (IURTS) project meeting was hosted by the University of Cassino (UNICAS) in Rome, Italy, from 21-23 May 2024. The project partners had the opportunity to get updated on the pilot activities’ progress and evaluation in Poland and Romania, as well as to discuss and agree on the project’s next steps. Additionally, the partners met Daniela Conti, representative of the Italian Union of Sport for All (UISP), learned about the work accomplished in Italy, and exchanged experience towards social integration of Ukrainian refugees through sport. 

IURTS is co-funded by Erasmus+ and supports the integration of Ukrainian refugee children through sport by collecting and developing scalable, targeted, hands-on resources, piloting testing them in Poland and Romania, and widening the impact through international networks in sport organisations across Europe to extend the results and benefit Ukrainian children across the continent. It has been 18 months since the Integration for Ukrainian Children Refugees project was launched and seeing the progress made on the ground has been highly inspiring. The project has been successfully implemented in more than 60 schools across Poland and Romania, reaching a total of over 10,000 children, 20% of them are refugee children from Ukraine. 

Children want to be listened to, to be understood; they want empathy and a lot of understanding, no matter their nationality. Children need us, the teachers, sometimes even more than their parents who are not always by their side. This was confirmed to me during the training sessions. We, physical education teachers, are very lucky, we are privileged, because children love sports, they love movement. Pupils know that they have support in the physical education teacher, that’s why we know most of their problems and by standing together, we can solve them. We manage to do all these also thanks to meetings, discussions, cases debated during the coaching sessions envisaging principles that govern sport activities,” said Luminita Scripca, who is one of the 14 physical education and sports teachers in Romania, who have been trained by Terre des Hommes Romania, one of the IURTS partners.  the methodology used is called Movement, Games, Sports and Creativity (MGSC), which utilises sports, games and creativity as a psychosocial tool to develop personal and social skills of children, who are at a certain moment in their lives in a vulnerable situation.

Through sport and physical activities, the children have learned more about each other’s countries and cultural heritage, they have built friendships, and most importantly, it has helped children from Ukraine feel a little bit more at home. The damage of war might leave life-lasting scars on the children’s emotional and mental wellbeing. But giving them the opportunity to play and enjoy sport and physical activity in a safe environment has invaluable power to help them on their journey to recovery.

The project strengthened friendships. It was an opportunity for laughter, discussion, and getting to know each other” -said one of the Polish teacher participating in the programme. 

We use the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and inequality for children young people and their communities. This project is a great example that sport has the power to change the world “- said Elena Marin Yanez, expert at Laureus. 

The partners expressed that the meeting was an important occasion to consolidate the progress made in the IURTS project, as well as to get to know stories of change, collected through the evaluation process in the pilot in Romania. The next step is the launch of a social media campaign focusing on children’s well-being and social integration in and through sports, physical activity and movement.

Key project facts:
Title: Integration of Ukrainian Refugee Children Through Sport 
Project period: January 2023-December 2024
Co-funded by: Erasmus+ Sport Cooperation Partnerships
Grant amount: €400,000
Project lead: V4Sport Foundation, Poland
Partners: ISCA, Suceava Sport for All (Romania), Terre des Hommes (Romania), University of Cassino and Southern Lazio (Italy), Laureus Sport for Good

Posted on 06/06/2024 by Katerina Salta and Anita Kiraly, ISCA


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