Political tension and violent conflict is, unfortunately, ongoing in Lebanon. It is, therefore, the right time, as our first experiences with the programme have shown, for establishing productive leisure time activities that provide orientation and promote important norms and behaviours. These developments serve to help the children cope with daily life and are a great necessity for their psychosocial wellbeing.
The sport and play programme, which started at the beginning of 2007 was very well received by the participants and there are many indicators of its importance for the participating children. For example they wish to compensate classes, which have to be dropped out for security reasons and they insisted to continue with the activities during summer holiday, although schools are closed. As result, a special programme will now be organized during the summer months. One of our coaches reported that one of the participating boys even jumped from his house window to participate in the activities. Although his parents had nothing against his participation, his mother had coincidentally left and locked the door. Because he was so eager to take part in the activities, he looked for any solution that would let him get to the playground.
At the beginning, coaches reported a hostile and aggressive atmosphere in some of the classes. This aggressive behaviour is understandable, when you take into account the traumatic experiences many of these children have endured. This is especially the case with the Palestinian refugee participants, who face enormously difficult life conditions and are not used to doing sports in a coach-led, group setting.
Despite this initial situation, all coaches observed improvements in fairness and in dealing with aggression several weeks after the project began: ‘The kids are showing progress and much more involvement in the games. They are starting to act as a real team and exhibit a lot of enjoyment in their play time. They react much less aggressively towards us (coaches) and the other participants. Also, the team I’m dealing with expressed great creativity in that they invented many new games; I just brought them the material. In addition they invited participants from the other groups to play their newly-invented games with them.’
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