June 20th is World Refugee Day, a global day to celebrate, recognize and honor contributions made by displaced people across the world. According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), today, an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from homes, including over half of who are under the age of 18.
When newly arrived immigrant and refugee youth are resettled to a new community, they face internal and external challenges to integration and accessing pathways to success. The soccer field is one of the few places where newcomer youth immediately feel confident, connected, and comfortable in expressing themselves.. When youth first come to the U.S., they can feel helpless and isolated. . Soccer can reach these young people in a way that no other activity can. It can serve as an international language.
In that context, two local non-profits, Soccer Without Borders and World Relief Seattle are teaming up for the second consecutive summer to run the Kent Immigrant and Refugee Community Soccer Camp. Funded by the King County Youth and Amateur Sports Grant, this one-week soccer camp is exclusively for newly arrived immigrant, refugee and asylee youth. Campers are boys and girls, 1st-12th graders, who will spend their days honing their soccer skills, playing small-sided tournament games and participating in off-team team building and arts workshops. This effort will be led by Soccer Without Borders coaches who receive specific training in trauma informed coaching in partnership with Up2Us Sports. The program is designed to maximize opportunities for youth to practice English, forge friendships across cultures, and to have fun being active in a safe environment. Many of these same skills will support youth as they transition back to school or enroll in local schools for the first time this fall. The camp is free for all participants and all youth receive two meals, snacks, transportation and soccer gear during the week.
As Soccer Without Borders and World Relief complete final preparations for the camp, they’re looking for King County residents to help support an amazing camp week. You can help by:
- Volunteering at the camp: be an assistant coach, distribute meals, help with off-field workshops. Most volunteers sign up for the full week, but there are also roles for volunteers who can sign up for 1-2 days.
- Run an equipment drive to supply gear for the camp. Contact SWB for more information.
- Refer youth or families to the camp. If you know someone in your community who could be a good fit for the camp, have them sign up here.