L.A.C.E.S. and the Ethiopian Community Development Council hosted a World Refugee Soccer Tournament Sunday, June 11 in honor of World Refugee Day. Five teams, comprised of refugees and community members, competed in five small sided games then faced off in a semi-final and championship match. Refugees participating in the tournament came from Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Syria, Colombia and Sudan, while community members live in Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland. Each team received matching shirts while the winning team was awarded tickets to attend a D.C. United soccer game together of their choosing. Without knowing one another beforehand and despite cultural differences, teams were able to come together to compete in the spirit of soccer.
World Refugee Day is internationally recognized and celebrated annually on June 20th. The holiday was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2000 in an effort to acknowledge the plight of refugees and encourage governments to work together to address refugee needs. According to UNHCR, there are over 21.3 million refugees in the world, while 86% of those refugees are hosted by developing countries. Moreover, less than 1% of refugees are ever resettled. Per the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, nearly 85,000 refugees entered the U.S. in fiscal year 2016 and the number dwindling to 46,000 thus far in fiscal year 2017.
In addition to the soccer tournament, families and spectators were invited to participate in face painting and crafts. Alongside one another, community members and refugees participated in advocating on behalf of refugees by writing postcards to their government representatives. With support from Giant Foods, Capital City Cheesecake, Middle Eastern Cuisine and other sponsors, food and beverages were provided to players and spectators.
Overall the tournament was a success! Albeit being strangers, team camaraderie quickly developed and new friendships made. L.A.C.E.S. enjoyed providing a chance for refugee families and the larger community to come together in commemoration of such an important day. The soccer tournament demonstrated the power of sports to cross language, social, economic and cultural barriers and can be used as a tool for integration and acceptance.
If you would like to participate in writing to your state representatives and advocate for refugees, please email us at email@example.com.
In partnership with the Ethiopian Community Development Council, L.A.C.E.S. will be co-sponsoring a soccer tournament to commemorate World Refugee Day, a globally recognized holiday on June 20th of every year. In an effort to promote community integration and advocacy for refugees, this event will provide refugees and the greater D.C. area an opportunity to engage with one another and foster positive cross-cultural interaction.
The soccer tournament will be held Sunday, June 11 at West Potomac Park near the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument from 11 am – 5 pm. Teams participating in the tournament will be comprised of a mix of ten refugees and community members at least thirteen years of age.
“This soccer tournament will be a great experience for both refugee children and their families as well as the community at large to come together and learn more about one another,” as noted by Kristin Henderson, who works directly with L.A.C.E.S.
The United Nations General Assembly first observed World Refugee Day on June 20, 2001 to honor the perseverance and strength of the men, women and children forced to flee their homes under threat of conflict, persecution, and violence. In 2015 alone, over 65 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their home and less than 1% of all the world’s refugees were resettled. In fiscal year 2016, the U.S. resettled nearly 85,000 refugees. Since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which created the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program, 3 million refugees have resettled in America. Refugees flee from countries all over the world. Refugees resettling in the D.C. Metro Area come from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Birundi, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
L.A.C.E.S. (Life and Change Experienced thru Sport) works with refugee youth from 14 different countries in the Washington D.C. area. By providing sports camps, access to leagues and with an aim for long-term programming, L.A.C.E.S. encourages refugee integration, promotes positive development and alleviates some of the challenges refugee children face during the early stages of resettlement.
L.A.C.E.S. implemented its first Youth Basketball Camp for thirty refugee children April 17-21 at William Wirt Middle School in Riverdale, MD. Hosted by L.A.C.E.S staff and volunteers, the camp focused on learning basketball techniques and five values of L.A.C.E.S – Fair Play, Respect, Teamwork, Self-Esteem and Discipline. Each day the camp focused on a different value and awarded prizes to those kids who best exemplified the value of the day. Kids were taught new skills daily and were encouraged to practice them alongside L.A.C.E.S. values throughout scrimmages.
When refugee children aren’t in school, they have limited positive outlets and activities to be engaged in. L.A.C.E.S. basketball camp provided an opportunity for many children to play basketball for the first time in a fun and safe environment.
In addition to L.A.C.E.S. kids attending, twenty-four students from Atholton Academy joined the camp activities on Thursday. Atholton’s 6th Grade class supported the camp through various fundraisers and equipment donations. The goal of this partnership was to promote cross-cultural integration and tolerance for diversity.
Overall the Youth Basketball Camp was a success. L.A.C.E.S is grateful for the support of the community and Atholton Academy, which enables us to provide positive and fun experiences for refugee children in the Washington, D.C. metro area.
L.A.C.E.S. which stands for Life And Change Experienced thru Sports has been selected by D.C. United as the beneficiary of their Every Save Makes a Difference program for their home match on April 8, 2017. D.C. United will donate $500 of soccer equipment to L.A.C.E.S. for every save the team makes.
Through the Every Save Makes a Difference program, Major League Soccer, Allstate, and Univision partner to support local organizations that work with under-served youth. D.C. United will purchase soccer equipment on behalf of L.A.C.E.S. soccer program, which serves 450 youth year-round. The dollar amount of the donation is determined by D.C. United’s number of saves during the home match versus New York City FC.
Since its inception, the Every Save Makes a Difference program has delivered over $200,000 worth of soccer equipment across the nation and has impacted more than 25,000 youth.
L.A.C.E.S. refugee soccer program works with youth from 14 different countries in the Greater Washington D.C. area. The youth are excited about the opportunity to attend the game and meet players from D.C. United.
L.A.C.E.S. founder Seren Fryatt said “We are honored that D.C. United has selected us as a partner and welcoming our youth into the D.C. community. To meet a professional soccer player and attend a game is a dream come true for so many of our youth.”
From July 18th to 22nd, L.A.C.E.S. united 44 children from the Greater DC refugee community in its first Youth Soccer Camp. Kids from 14 nationalities, some of them just arriving in the US a few weeks prior, had the opportunity to interact through the common language of soccer.
A dream-team of 33 volunteers made incredible efforts to make sure that the children were having a fun, safe and formative experience.
The Camp Director Mike Ekberg, Assistant Coach for Towson University women’s soccer team, structured an amazing program that linked soccer activities to the core values of L.A.C.E.S.
The drills were specifically organized around the core values of teamwork, respect, honesty, discipline and fair-play. Frequent water and snack breaks created the opportunity to have mentoring and discussion around these values. At the end of each day, all the kids came together for a big soccer game, as to have the opportunity to put into practice what they learned about soccer and the core values. During the daily debriefing time the 4 children that displayed the value of that day the best received some yummy gifts.
Besides an indoor and outdoor soccer field and all the related equipment, L.A.C.E.S. was able to provide every child with daily transportation, food (2 meals/day and several snacks), a customized water bottle and a soccer ball.
During the evening of the last day, a block party was hosted at the apartment complex where most of the kids live. It was a great opportunity to get together outside of the field, meet the kids’ families, share stories and make new friends.
Thanks to the hard work of coaches and volunteers, we could see children making new friends, new life experiences and values, and hopefully a better hope for the future.
This successful first step represents only the starting point of L.A.C.E.S. involvement with the local refugee community. The goal for the coming future is to provide consistent programs over the year. So, let’s start to work on it!
A huge thank-you goes to everybody who made this wonderful experience a reality!
When talking about migration, too often we forget that behind numbers and statistics we have human beings. Reporting the focus on humanity is the first step to start solving the current refugee crisis. Here’s a list of great recent movies and documentaries who can help us understand what is like to be forced to leave our homes and our countries, with nowhere to go.
AFTER SPRING (2016)
With the Syrian conflict now in its sixth year, millions of people continue to be displaced. “After Spring” is the story of what happens next. By following two refugee families in transition and aid workers fighting to keep the camp running, viewers will experience what it is like to live in Zaatari, the largest camp for Syrian refugees. With no end in sight for the conflict or this refugee crisis, everyone must decide if they can rebuild their lives in a place that was never meant to be permanent.
THE RESETTLED (2016)
Tzu Chi USA produced a documentary calling attention to the international refugee crisis. “The Resettled” presents the dramatic stories of refugees who are building new lives in America, and forces us to question: How willing are we to put out the welcome mat for foreigners from a distant land?
Full episodes: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQQmBU_rBpM
FIRE AT SEA (2016)
The film is shot on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa during the European migrant crisis, and sets the migrants’ dangerous Mediterranean crossing against a background of the ordinary life of the islanders. The main characters are a twelve-year-old boy from a local fishing family and a doctor who treats the migrants on their arrival
REFUGEE REPUBLIC (Interactive documentary – 2016)
Camp Domiz is a Syrian refugee camp in northern Iraq. Around 64 thousand predominantly Kurdish-Syrian refugees have sought shelter here. As the number of refugees grew, the camp gradually transformed from a temporary refuge to a makeshift town, where people live and work, go to school, start a business, get married, argue and have fun. Visual artist Jan Rothuizen, journalist Martijn van Tol, and photographer Dirk Jan Visser explored Camp Domiz from A to Z. They bring to life its inhabitants and places in a multidimensional mix of sound, drawings, photo and film.
SALAM NEIGHBOR (2015)
Two Americans head to the edge of war, just seven miles from the Syrian border, to live among 85,000 uprooted refugees in Jordan’s Za’atari camp.
THE LAND BETWEEN (2014)
“The Land Between” offers an intimate insight into the hidden and desperate lives of Sub-Saharan African migrants living in the mountains of northern Morocco. For most, their dream is to enter Europe by jumping a highly-militarised barrier into Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the African continent. With unique and unprecedented access, this film documents the everyday life of these migrants trapped in limbo, as well as the extreme violence and constant mistreatment they face from both the Moroccan and Spanish authorities. It also explores many universal questions, including how and why people are prepared to risk everything, including their life, to leave their country, their family and friends, in search of a new and better life.
Full Movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf4N_lHOWEA
THE GOLDEN DREAM (2013)
Juan, Sara and Samuel, three teenagers from the slums of Guatemala, travel to the US in search of a better life. On their journey through Mexico, they meet Chauk, an indian from Chiapas who doesn’t speak Spanish. Travelling together in cargo trains, walking on the railroad tracks, they soon have to face a harsh reality.
L.A.C.E.S. is proud to announce the launch of its first Refugee Youth Soccer Camp this summer! The one-week camp will host 60 boys and girls age 9-14 predominately from the greater D.C. refugee community. The camp will be held from July 18-22 2016, from 8:00am to 1:00pm at Total Soccer Arena: 8400 Ardwick Ardmore Rd. Hyattsville, MD 20785.
Children from different countries and languages will gather together through the uniting power of soccer. The goal is to encourage children’s self-esteem and team-building capacities, while promoting social inclusion and cross-cultural exchange. For the duration of the camp, L.A.C.E.S. will provide the children with 2 meals per day, a soccer ball, water bottle, t-shirt, wristband and gifts. Furthermore, transportation will be provided daily from Parkview Garden Apartments in Riverdale and King Square Apartments in Hyattsville, where the most of the participants live. Led by Camp Director Mike Eckberg, Assistant Coach for Towson University’s women’s soccer team, experienced coacheswill train both individual and collective soccer skills, organized games and educative activities in a safe and fun environment.
This camp represents the first step in L.A.C.E.S. involvement with the local refugee community. For the coming future, L.A.C.E.S. is planning to hold one-day camps, for example during school holidays. The goal is to provide continuity to the program, strengthen and expand the group, help the parents take care of their kids during holidays and define new strategies of intervention.
L.A.C.E.S. mission is to raise up positive role models in the world through the avenue of sports, developing mentor driven sports leagues for children in need of healing. We work to create a sustainable, replicable model of community development using sports as a tool to reach at-risk youth and empower their local communities. Our work is focused on promoting:
– Local leadership: We believe that each community know the best way to address the social issues that our children face. Through ongoing training, we empower locals to create their own change.
– Community Engagement: L.A.C.E.S. partners with the community to identify the most vulnerable children.
In Liberia, since 2007 L.A.C.E.S. has been working with 1200 children, 180 coaches, 20 Liberian staff in 5 communities. Our work is focused on families fostering children who live on the street, schools providing scholarships to children who cannot afford it and the creation of platforms to address social issues such as Ebola.
In the United States, L.A.C.E.S. is engaging with the refugee community of the greater DC area. The purpose is to promote children’s social inclusion through the uniting power of soccer. This will help them overtake cultural barrier and to find fun and safe environments where to interact with other children.
Refugees situation in the US (overview)
Refugees in the DC metro area (overview)