“Basketball!!” the young girl cries out emphatically. She’s answering questions about which sports she most likes to play during field trips to American Community School (ACS). “Last Saturday was the first time I played basketball and I loved it.” Khaleeda (10) is already looking forward to the next field trip.
Once a month on the weekend, CRP takes a few dozen boys and girls there to run around, play, and enjoy themselves on the green lawn of the soccer fields. It makes a big difference for the children, who usually do not have access to any such facilities in their neighborhoods.
For kids like Khaleeda, who had to abandon her primary school in Syria when the war threatened her life, being able to do sports on well-kept, professional lawns is a luxury. In the neighborhood of Hashemi Shamali, where a lot of refugee children live, they often have to resort to playing on the streets, which is dangerous and unsafe. Khaleeda sometimes plays soccer with her cousins in their grandfather’s garden, but it was only at ACS that she first played on a real soccer field. The American Community School in Amman has been hosting kids from CRP on field trips for a long time, and was recently able to offer even more regular times, thanks to grants CRP has secured from Rotary International and Blossom Hill.
Children love to play and move. Sports and leisure time away from school are a human right according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But even in Jordan’s public schools, students do not always have access to adequate facilities to pursue any sport seriously. “Physical education classes are scheduled once a week for 45 minutes, but they often get cancelled by teachers who want to catch up on other subjects”, explains Karam, who heads CRP’s education programme. “Kids who come to us from Iraq or Syria may have had even less access to proper PE classes.”
“The American Community School actively supports CRP with this activity. They organize transportation to and from the school and even provide healthy snacks for the children. Students from ACS also help coaching the children and oversee the games,” explains Blossom-Hill fellow Emad, who is responsible for the activity. Free use of facilities at ACS helped Emad secure a grant from Blossom Hill to create a new sports program at CRP, which is launching this fall. “At the moment, we take different kids every time, since we only have one day per month to use the facilities. In the future, however, we will expand the program to one trip per week, thanks to a grant by Blossom Hill Foundation. We will be able to take 50 children every time, and include a leadership program to go along with sophisticated basketball and soccer training. Older kids will learn to oversee games and coach the younger children to promote leadership skills and social cohesion, since the groups are mixed and include Iraqi, Syrian and even some Jordanian children.”
We want to thank ACS for their fantastic support in this activity. It means a lot to the children to reclaim a part of their childhood. They can let loose, exhaust themselves physically, and make new friends at the same time. And stay tuned for more on Emad’s new sports program!