“Soccer is everything for me..."
Coyrille Wangama (17), Kenya
Specializing in empowering both immigrants and citizens to develop relationships with one another that enrich entire communities, Thrive International recently ran a soccer camp for refugee youth in Spokane, Washington.
PARK were privileged to partner with them and provide soccer balls over the four day camp. Every kid then left with a PARK ball of their very own, capping a successful and enjoyable event!
In celebration of diversity and the power of play, we caught up with Celia Vigil – a member of Thrive's Youth Team – to learn more about Thrive’s purpose and why she believes football can change the world:
Last week, Thrive International’s Soccer camp 2022 brought together over 60 kids from 10 different countries for 4 days. Why is diversity in sport important?
Diversity in sport allows us to share in a global community and the human experience. It brings us together as a team and bonds us in key moments of triumph, joy, and challenge.
Many of these kids learned to play soccer in other countries and called it something else, but they can still all play together. It also helped them see that they have a place not only in a diverse game, but in a diverse community.
What does a soccer camp like this do for refugee youth in the community?
The soccer camp allows them to just be kids. They spend the day doing drills; laughing; playing matches; eating popsicles; dancing; and having water balloon fights.
They are hearing different languages. They are meeting kids who also know what it's like to be an immigrant or refugee.
But it's also showing them that they aren't alone. That they are valued as immigrants and refugees. That they are valued and there is a community where they belong.
Why did Thrive believe PARK were the perfect partners for the camp?
It's simple - PARK’s mission aligned with ours.
They believe soccer can change the world by bringing people together. That’s what soccer camp is all about too - uniting youth across diverse backgrounds with a game they all love and know.
We both know one soccer game; camp; or ball can’t eliminate the challenges immigrant and refugee youth face. But, the point of community connection is invaluable and it’s how thriving starts.
Receiving beautiful soccer balls provided by PARK was a moment of thriving for the youth at soccer camp.
The footballs were passed directly to Thrive's soccer camp by the PARK community through our Pass-a-ball Project - where one ball is passed for every ball purchased. How does this further enable Thrive's work to create meaningful change?
For one, we would not be able to pull off soccer camp without partners like PARK. Being able to provide youth with exceptional quality soccer balls was a game changer. It enhanced the experience of soccer camp and gave the kids an awesome experience.
Being able to provide that helps us further enrich the lives of underserved youth.
What do you hope the kids take away from the four days - and into their everyday life?
We hope that they can find joy and meaning in soccer.
We hope they take away a greater sense of connection to other refugee and immigrant youth, and their local community.
We hope most of all that they take away the feeling of empowerment to not just survive, but to thrive.