Since mid-July, the group of YMCA Thessaloniki, under the REACT program (Refugee, Assistance, Collaboration, Thessaloniki), has been active in temporary hospitality center in Diavata focusing on organising creative and sports activities for refugee children, aged 3-16 years old.

The REACT is a project funded by UNHCR with lead partner the Municipality of Thessaloniki and it temporarily hosts asylum seekers applying for relocation to other European countries.

Our partners say about the program; “The REACT group during this time despite all the obstacles and unforeseen situations that is called to face on a daily basis was able to structure coherent ties with children. The REACT team coped effectively developing skills related to crisis management”.

After two months of visiting Diavata centre, the children now recognize the team members  and participate gladly in the suggested activities. During this period, we noticed that the children have developed skills, such as teamwork spirit, discipline, and also a sense of responsibility regarding the maintenance of the materials used for the activities. It has also been noticed that the children have become less aggressive during the activities and much better listeners when it comes to hear the instructions of the games and the sports actions.

The aim of REACT group is to pass on messages of optimism for a more promising and mostly peaceful future. Gradually feelings of joy and love have been constructed.

During these two months, the group developed activities related to self-determination of every child individually and acquaintance with the larger group. Visual creations about family, friends and themselves, marked the beginning of React Team actions. Subsequently, the team organised activities related to the cheerful world of the seabed and the sea trying to help the children “feel” the joy of the Greek summer. The Aristophanian comedyPeace” was analyzed, presented in the form of an illustrated tale and explained through visual metaphors. The team has also included in the daily routine of the children, games coming from the Greek tradition, such as the “wipe”, the “blind man’s buff” and the “bee” as well as sports games such as the “apples”, the “jump rope”, football and some other Olympic sports.

Finally, REACT group contributes to the formation of pleasant images and therefore memories by transferring messages promising a better world.

The REACT team

Anna Argyri, Myrto Stagkou , Issa Chahine , Ismini Grigoriadou , Kostis Kokkinoplitis