Welcome to Play

The Cause

Welcome to Play will serve as a much needed bridge to a new life in Canada for refugee children. Refugee families continue to come into Canada, and Edmonton in large numbers. They come with very little and are tasked with restarting life in a brand new, foreign country. They start their new lives in resettlement homes, usually hotels, where families can spend weeks living in a hotel room. The idea behind Welcome to Play is to use sport as a tool to give the families a break from the trauma of their move and provide a safe space for kids to play, grow and belong. With Welcome to Play our trained staff will arrive at resettlement hotels with a bus to transport participants to various safe spaces where they just can be kids and play. The idea of just being able to go outside and play with kids and find belonging is a foreign concept to most of these children. While in our care we will provide these kids with a snack to ensure they are capable of playing. By creating this space we will create the first healthy supportive relationships with these kids in their new countries and give them an idea of what their new lives can be like. While the kids are in the safety of the welcome to play program their parents can process their trauma and begin to navigate the resettlement process.

Who Will it Benefit?

Welcome to play provides a direct benefit to the refugee children that we work with. These kids often come from countries and situations where they never knew what a safe place to play meant like. These kids have lived in fear, devoid of opportunities to find friends and grow their own community. By bringing the kids together to experience the joy of sport we will help create a space where they can grow their relationship with their new country and also with kids that have a similar story. The benefit extends to the parents and families of these kids as well. While in our care the families have time to process the trauma of the situation. They also have been afforded limited time to work through the resettlement process knowing that their children are in a safe space. I would argue that all of society benefits from programs like this because to a newcomer this is one of the first interactions they will have with their new country. One of the first interactions is a group of people showing an interest and genuine care in the growth and development of their kids and not asking for anything in return.