The Olympic Refuge Foundation launched the Game Connect, a $1.5 million structured Sport for Protection project in Uganda implemented in a consortium led by AVSI Foundation with partners: Uganda Olympic Committee, UNHCR, Right To Play and Youth Sport Uganda. The project will work with 10,068 vulnerable refugee and host community youth aged 15-24 years in districts of Kampala (Nakawa and Makindye Divisions), Adjumani (Adjumani Refugee Settlement), Kamwenge (Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement) and Lamwo (Palabek Refugee Settlement) over the next three years (August 2020 – July 2023).
“Game Connect will emphasize the relevance of sport in improving the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of youth. We extend our gratitude to The Olympic Refuge Foundation, Government of Uganda and all partners in this project for the chance of a better life for the young people in Uganda and for a successful collaboration. AVSI Foundation is committed to promoting the dignity of all individuals, especially those at the last mile,” stated the AVSI Foundation Secretary General, Giampoalo Silvestri.
Most refugee populations especially the youth experience several challenges including: abuse, violence, deprivation, isolation, exclusion, limited economic and social opportunities, disruptions in their daily life and schooling, and increasingly suffer from psychological and mental stress, anxiety and illnesses. WHO study (2019) estimates that 20 percent of people in (post)-conflict settings have depression, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorders, bipolar disorder with global evidence pointing to the use of sport as an effective response to addressing these needs. The Game Connect project is an opportunity to engage the youthful refugee and host communities through sport to improve their mental wellbeing.
“The Olympic Refuge Foundation is thrilled to support the Game Connect program, which will harness the transformative power of sport to improve the mental health and well-being of over 10,000 young refugees and host community members across Uganda. The diverse Consortium that has been convened to deliver this programme will leverage on each partner’s strengths and areas of expertise to achieve maximum impact. We sincerely thank the UNHCR, AVSI Foundation, and the consortium partners for joining forces and believing in the power of sport to help young people affected by displacement in Uganda to find a place to belong and thrive. We also thank the Office of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, and the Minister of State for Sports for their invaluable support, ensuring that Game Connect will be a resounding success, and contributing generously to the Olympic Refuge Foundation’s goal for 1 million young people affected by displacement to access safe sport by 2024,” Jeroen Carrin of The Olympic Refuge Foundation said of the innovative and ambitious project.
The project which is a test case for Uganda will provide the needed contextual evidence/impact on the lives of youth for advocacy around scaling up Sport for Protection as an approach.