Active Kids project unites children and Syrian refugees through sport in Turkey
The Turkish Olympic Committee’s (TOC) Active Kids Sport Schools Project aims to unite and empower young people through sport. The project has focused on increasing the accessibility of sports for children in schools to strengthen both their physical and mental wellbeing.
One of the project’s first significant achievements was the launch of a sports school for local children and Syrian refugees in the Turkish city of Gaziantep in December 2017. During the launch, athletes such as Olympic gymnasts Göksu Üçtaş Şanlı and Ferhat Arıcan, who competed at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, led various sporting activities and training sessions for the students. The school functions through the TOC’s ‘Support Through Sport’ project, which is partly financed by the International Olympic Committees’ Emergency Fund for Refugees.
As a result of the TOC’s commitment to boost young people’s development in Turkey, children in Gaziantep now have access to classes where they can learn the fundamental skills and techniques in nine Olympics sports including basketball, gymnastics, wrestling, archery and volleyball.
In November 2019, the project was expanded to Kırıkhan, and has had a strong emphasis on the integration between local children and Syrian refugees. The TOC and Kırıkhan Municipality of Turkey kicked off the launch of a second school with an event for 300 local children and Syrian refugees. The children participated in several sports activities including badminton and volleyball. The day highlighted the unifying power of sport and its ability to promote physical and mental wellbeing.
To date, the Active Kids Sport Schools Project has significantly contributed to the lives of hundreds of children and Syrian refugees living in Turkey. By increasing their access to sport, it has improved social cohesion within their new communities and promoted the values of leading an active and healthy society.