• ENGSO Youth

Sport for Active Citizenship: HI5 Happy Caravan

ENGSO Youth Young Delegate Mirjana Ivkovic is leading the ’Hi5 Happy Caravan’ initiative which is funded by the IOC Young Leaders Programme and Panasonic.

Hi5 Happy Caravan’s aim is to integrate young refugees and locals between 7-20 years of age. One of the fundamental issues faced by refugees upon arrival in Serbia is the language barrier; therefore, the universal language of sport is hoped to facilitate intercultural dialogue.

The project is currently in its implementation phase, having completed its preparatory phase from September 2018 to April 2019. In collaboration with project partners, the project began by identifying local municipalities and five new refugee centers or schools where sport and educational workshops were needed. Following this identification process, the implementation phase commenced in April 2019 and is due to be completed in June 2020.

This stage was organised by the Serbian Olympic Committee (SOC), and has gathered previously selected teachers, coaches and facilitators who attended the seminar held in September 2018 in partnership with ENGSO through the ASPIRE project.

Every event delivers the same activities, including exercises led by a professional coach who runs the IOS/Android App ‘TreninGo’ for exercising, a cricket match delivered by certified Serbian Cricket Federation coaches, and ‘Football3’ which is led by volunteers and Mirjana. During past events, young Serbian athletes who won medals at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires have participated as promoters of the project. These athletes include Ivana Perovic, Aleksa Mitrovic and Nadica Božanic. As Peer Educators, the athletes were hoped to have a positive impact on the motivation of refugee children and help to facilitate an inclusive social environment. At the time of writing, five events have been organised in five different cities and schools.

Although the evaluation phase commences next year, early feedback of the initiative has been overwhelmingly positive. The project’s sustainability is best highlighted by the donated sport equipment and word of mouth support from former participants. More than 300 children participated in cricket and Football3 games.

As a continuation of the project and its legacy, Mirjana plans to continue delivering activities in association with project partners Group 484 and the Serbian Cricket Federation (SCF). As the project coordinator, Mirjana started the project with no expectations; she now believes in the growing impact of Hi5 Happy Caravan: “the main lesson is to start small but expect the greatest”, she concludes.

The text is taken from the Sport for Active Citizenship toolkit, the most important outcome of the 2019 Young Delegates meeting in Budapest, Hungary.

The Young Delegates meeting 2019 was supported by the Council of Europe through the European Youth Foundation.