OUR PROJECTS

“When we do sport together, we are a family. We share values and goals. What’s important is the community, the team work, the striving”

CHECK OUT OUR DIFFERENT PROJECTS/GYM LOCATIONS:

WHAT CLASSES AND ACTIVITIES DO WE PROVIDE?

Running

Running is in everyone. We are all able to run, you just have to put one foot in front of the other and repeat. Running provides mental training, it builds resistance, endurance and agility and can help you to think freely and order your thoughts. That is why we run, all together, as a team.

Yoga and Sports with Refugees offers a complete running schedule, including interval training, mountain runs, road runs, stadium training and the weekly long run on Saturday. The training always consists of a combination of exercises and running. We try to make the running training accessible for all different levels of running, from the very beginner to a 2:47 marathon runner (One of our runners in the Athens Marathon 2019!).

We compete in all the local running races and use these races to show the strength, passion and motivation of our runners to the local community and to enable integration with them. Races are also incredible for building team spirit, self-confidence and for offering a distraction from the time in the camp.



Swimming

100% of refugees reached Lesvos by sea from Turkey in extremely dangerous conditions. Most do not know how to swim and many are seriously traumatized by deep water. YSR helps men, boys, women and girls reconcile with the sea and learn how to swim. Our amazing swimming coaches teach swimming with the help of international volunteers, always under the watchful eye of a lifeguard. In addition, swimmers can also enjoy leisure activities on Kara Tepe Beach. They can just have fun.



TEAM SPORTS

All team sports require values that are effective tools for integrating different cultures, as everyone shares the same objective – practicing the same sport together. Using teamwork, an activity helps create community and a feeling of belonging to a group. This is an incredibly important feeling to have when going through an inhumane and isolating asylum system. 

Volleyball

Our volleyball team has found the perfect balance between seriousness in training and fun to enjoy the time together. Volleyball is popular all over the world and is one of the most attended sports at YSR. We play both court and beach volleyball, and have held some very large and successful tournaments. Everyone is welcome – regardless of your level, it’s the attitude that counts! 

Basketball

Basketball activity is open to everyone, when we have an available coach. We can’t say that there is a consolidated team, but thanks to this, we can say that we have found the perfect tool to introduce everyone to the world of sport, where the most important thing is neither technique nor competitiveness. It’s simply about everyone having a good time together. It has become one of the activities where we can find more cultural diversity, and where men and women share spaces to enjoy sport together.

Football

As one of the most popular sports in the world (that is almost like a shared global language) football is one of the most successful activities we have. We have teams for all abilities, but they all share a passion for the sport and a desire to keep improving. We often hold football tournaments and last year even had some friendly games with some local Greek teams. We have training at least 3 times a week, where everyone shows a passion, commitment and great team spirit. 

YOGA

Our yoga program seeks to destress and unwind students by providing a calm space to brighten daily life, increase physical awareness and distract from negative thoughts. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a major cause of psychological strain and waiting for a therapist in the camps can take months. Yoga provides a welcome time of peace. Yoga at YSR introduces strangers to each other and creates a community, which often reaches back into the camps. Yoga helps develop self-knowledge and self-awareness, positive thinking and mindfulness, all of which ease stress and begin to build a safe home from within.

MARTIAL ARTS & BOXING

Martial arts have become some of the most important sports for us as they have some of the highest number of participants. Everyday the classes are full of asylum-seekers and volunteers who come together to sweat, train and focus. Contact sports are very important in the origin countries of many asylum-seekers, and a lot of our students have practiced them before arriving in Europe. Our classes allow them to resume an activity that they developed in their routine prior to fleeing persecution. We want to practice together sports that we like, and martial arts represents a body and soul practice where focus and self-control are essential. These activities offer benefits both physically and psychologically: it promotes discipline and emotional management, and is a way to calm down and find peace amongst peers. We have many highly skilled coaches teaching Muay Thai, Karate, Kickboxing, Boxing and Wrestling. 

SPORT FOR WOMEN

Women, being subjected to discrimination in all cultures, are one of the most vulnerable groups in refugee camps. That is why we try to promote activities and spaces exclusively designed for them, taking into consideration their needs, enjoyment and development. It is important to create a safe space where women can be comfortable to relax, unwind and feel at ease to have fun while exercising. Therefore, we offer activities such as: yoga, self-defense, zumba, hip-hop, traditional dance, fitness, kick-boxing or swimming. We aim to create a time where women can afford to leave aside the roles that society imposes on us and remain in a private space to do enjoyable activities.

DANCE

Dance is a tool for expression, communication and inspiration on many levels. Not only is it a sport that allows us to put the whole body in motion, but it also allows us to feel accompanied by different music and to channel what we feel. Music and dance, present in all cultures, allows us to build community through movement and to be as one through our similarities and our differences. Dance is a great equalizer and source of joy and inspiration. 

It is a vitally important activity, as it allows the benefits of maintaining an active life to those who may not feel an attraction to sports in general.

PARKOUR & WRESTLING

YSR community members love challenging themselves in parkour classes that improve their physical abilities, flexibility and psychology – to take risks and test the limits of their bodies! Parkour classes test individuals carefully, with the guidance and often the physical assistance of the coach. These classes often include children who love to try new movements. Parkour is also featured in our fun challenge days – everyone will attempt a special trick or jump – the best one wins!

GYM & BODYBUILDING

Our gyms are one of the rare places offering sports for free. We have a great variety of people joining our activities and the female community in our gym is very strong and provides a space where people have to start building their future. Just like any other gym, many come to lift weights and build strength. YSR gyms also provide the community with clothing to ensure they have the right resources to be able to do exercise.

CLIMBING

Climbing classes are always crazy fun at the YSR gyms! Climbing started through links with organisations that specialise in this sport. We have since added climbing walls into the Lesvos and Ioannina gyms, and have incorporated some very popular climbing day activities in nearby areas on Lesvos island and near Ioannina. Climbing is done with the appropriate supervision and safety measures, but makes sure individuals – locals, camp residents, volunteers and anyone else interested – can step out of their comfort zones and try a new sport in a safe environment.

ACROYOGA

Acroyoga was introduced into YSR by amazing volunteers, who brought the practice to the island in fun and inclusive ways. Their initiative to begin teaching challenging poses brought many students to become more experienced and teach their own classes to other camp residents. Acroyoga – a practice that relies on partnership, trust, connection and listening – always brings laughter and enjoyment to YSR.

Zumba in the park

FREE GYM SPACE

Our gyms have many machines and workout spaces where individuals can come to lift weights and do their own independent workouts, either by themselves or with friends. Come in for free, change into workout gear, take your shoes off and go for it!

Yoga and Sports with Refugees does incredible work! The organization uses sports to help people find mental and physical strength in extremely difficult times. They facilitate programs and support athletes in all different types of sports. But truthfully, YSR is so much more than that. It’s a safe community, a place to belong, a place to find dignity, and meaning in difficult times. I am deeply inspired and impressed.

-Hilde Honerud, Non-Executive Board Member

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