Play is a stabilizing force, drawing kids away from the trauma of living in refugee camps and teaching them life skills that will ultimately be needed for peace to become reality.
There is much evidence to suggest that the Syrian refugee crisis will leave a haunting legacy.
More than two million people have fled from Syria since conflict began in 2011, one million of them exiled from their homes in 2013 alone*. More than 700,000 now reside in Lebanon, making up one-sixth of the country’s overall population. Meanwhile, Jordan’s Zaatari camp – initially thought of as a temporary solution – is now the fourth-largest city in the country.
But perhaps one of the more staggering statistics is this: more than half of the displaced Syrian refugees are children.
The trauma of the crisis is taking a psychological toll on the young, leaving them confused, angry, and creating massive implications on their development. Coupled with deteriorating conditions in packed refugee camps, this demographic is one of the most vulnerable of refugees.
With families abandoning their homes, most children have lost their opportunity for an education. They are left uncertain and bored, causing stress leading to violent behaviour. The Syrian refugee crisis will harm a generation without proper intervention.
Considering this, it is crucial that these children have the opportunity for structured play.
Through Right To Play games, kids can find a sense of normalcy, while learning life skills with positive behaviours in areas plagued by violence.
Right To Play provides programming in Lebanon and Jordan, two of the most heavily-affected countries. Through our peace-building initiatives, we reach 11,430 Syrian and Palestinian children in Lebanon. More than 220 Coaches and teachers have been trained to lead specially-designed games and activities that encourage peace building, while fostering positive interactions between participants, regardless of their age, gender, ability or religious beliefs.
Our programs also aim to improve the quality of education in conflict-affected communities and grant access to safe and protective learning spaces.
Although sport and play alone cannot prevent conflict or build peace, our programs emphasize their best values – fair play, teamwork, respect and acceptance – and can contribute to broader peace-building efforts. When implemented by well-trained Coaches, sport helps to bridge relationships across social, economic and cultural divides and creates a shared identity amongst groups that would otherwise risk being in conflict.
Right To Play also works in partnership with community leaders, governments, charitable bodies, and local and national partners to ensure that change is sustainable.