UNICEF and HOOPS launch joint ‘Sports for Development’ project

Beirut, December 2013 - UNICEF and HOOPS Club launch this month a joint project to bring together adolescents from Syrian refugee communities and Lebanese communities as part of an effort to encourage dialogue and cohesion between the two communities.
Through joint sports and educational activities, the “Sports for Development” project aims to reach thousands of children in areas where a high number of Syrian refugees have settled. The UNICEF funded project will be implemented by HOOPS Club in collaboration with local NGOs in Beirut, Sour, Akkar and Baalbek. 
“Sport, recreation and play are a fun way to learn values and lessons that will last a life time,” said Ms. Amal Obeid, UNICEF’s youth programmes officer in Lebanon, “Not only is it a basic right for all children but these activities promote friendship and teach coping skills necessary to ensure that children develop into caring and healthy individuals.”
Since the start of the Syria conflict, more than 850,000 Syrians have fled the violence to Lebanon, over half of them children under 18. Sports and recreation activities provide thousands of these adolescent boys and girls with safe environments to express themselves and promote stable relationships between refugee children and host communities across Lebanon.
“Many of the Syrian children who have been displaced by the conflict have lost their network of friends and find it difficult to assimilate and make new friends,” said Ms. Mariam Hafez, project manager for HOOPS Club, “With this programme we aim to bring back some normality their lives.” 
The program centers around allowing children and young adults of different ages to learn how to interact with others, and how to freely express themselves, sharing ideas and thoughts to contribute to becoming active drivers of positive social change, essentially building harmony across local communities and bridging towards a safer and a more fair world.
The first phase of the project has been launched in Beirut with specialized sports trainers and child development experts providing sports, educational and recreational training. In its second phase the project will provide aid and training to Syrian mothers on aspects such as hygiene and adaptive psychology in order to empower them to be more active guardians of their families' wellbeing. 
The project will culminate in preparing 1000 children and young adults to become active ambassadors of these positive messages and prospective trainers within their communities.
This is the second time HOOPS partners with UNICEF on development initiatives; a similar project was implemented following the conflict between Lebanon and Israel in 2006.


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