Hi5 to inclusion!

Hi5 Happy Caravan is a youth-led, sport-based project aimed to encourage social inclusion and foster newly built relationships between migrants and refugees from five refugee centres in Serbia and pupils from local schools. The project’s preparatory phase was the Serbian National Training Session of our former Erasmus+ collaborative partnership project, ASPIRE.

Language barriers, cultural and religious differences, deprivation of formal education and other everyday challenges of at-risk groups are to be overcome in order to secure the integration of migrants and refugees in society. Hence, the project relies on sport as a unique "language" and a proven mechanism in fostering the inclusion of disadvantaged groups.

Cricket was chosen as the main sport of the project, because it is one of the most popular sports in the refugees’ countries of origin, even though, in Serbia, it’s not a prevalent sport. Hence, it is interesting for local kids to learn how to play it, especially with the help of their new friends from Pakistan and Afghanistan. At the same time, football3 was introduced with the aim to promote gender equality by involving more girls in it. At the sport sessions, the participants are accompanied by talented Serbian athletes, who won medals at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018 and who promote the Olympic values and fair play principles.

The project started in September 2018 and runs until the end of 2020. So far, more than 300 children participated in cricket and football3 games. All activities were organised on a school ground and were open to the public, so anyone could join them. For the remainder of 2020, five more events are planned.

An experienced team – comprised of facilitators, teachers and volunteers – travelled more than 1650 km across Serbia to cover those regions which are most populated by at-risk groups, primarily, migrants. The team members were selected based on their expertise in the field of inclusion, as well as on their capacity to positively influence local youth and refugees.

The project was initiated by youth on a voluntary basis and involved a few hundred individuals across five different locations, while maintaining an extremely low-cost level. Thanks to a generous donation of equipment, the participating schools are now able to generate impact by organising similar inclusive activities on a continuous basis.

The project is initiated by ENGSO Youth Young Delegate and IOC Young Leader Mirjana Ivkovic. The project is implemented in cooperation with the Serbian ENGSO member – the Olympic Committee of Serbia – and supported by the International Olympic Committee and Panasonic.