Children coming to the United States as refugees have often experienced trauma prior to their arrival. The process of becoming a part of a new country—joining a new community, learning a new language, adapting to a new culture—should not add to that trauma, but it often does. Two programs on opposite sides of the country have found the same answer to the question of how to help these young people adapt and thrive here: soccer.
Soccer, the most popular sport in the world, seems to be the glue that brings young refugees together,
..Soccer is that universal language. When you have a kid that has fled their country, has had a horrible experience, comes to this strange country, the one thing they understand is soccer. It’s always been an escape for them. In the refugee camps, some of them would bundle up plastic bags to make a soccer ball so they could play. You see kids that don’t speak a word of English, who have been struggling for months. And when they come here, their faces light up when they’re on the field. For kids that were robbed of their childhood, this is one place they get to be kids again. They feel comfortable. They feel confident and happy.
...soccer is the tool to engage these young people and build their confidence.
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