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Fusion 2014 ran in July and is part of a joint pilot that Ignite Sport and New Zealand Red Cross organised to help young people resettle into their new country.
More than 40 students from refugee backgrounds including Burma, Colombia and Congo took part in new sports, personal development exercises and life-skills sessions.
Among them was Barbara, a former refugee from Congo who has been in New Zealand for five years. Barbara speaks five languages and enjoys art, particularly drawing portraits. She wants to be a doctor or a nurse so she can help her family whenever they get sick.
Although scared of heights, Barbara overcame her fear and she already wants to take part in Fusion soon again.“I have never done this before and it was a challenge, because I am really scared of heights. But I did it and I feel great.”
As a sports enthusiast, she says she loved everything about the programme, especially the rock-climbing wall.“I just got up there and I didn’t look back and I didn’t look down, I kept climbing. You just have to trust in your inner-self.”
The programme aims to strengthen the young peoples’ connection with their new community, while developing their own personal qualities and leadership skills.
Lucy Anderson, Red Cross Refugee Services Team Leader who helped organise Fusion 2014 says it is challenging being a teenager at the best of times and the programme fills a gap that was missing in the community.
It’s really important to support youth from refugee backgrounds in our communities and ensure they have a positive start in their new home early on. Fusion helps young people feel better connected to life in New Zealand and shows them what activities they can get involved with in their spare time.
Lucy says the programme was very successful and positive feedback has come back from youth who took part.“We really hope to continue building our relationship with Ignite and we would like to expand the programme further across New Zealand in the future.”
Fusion 2014 was run in Lower Hutt, Wellington and Porirua, and includes a range of sports such as speedball, boxing, ultimate frisbee and a climbing wall challenge. In between recreation sessions participants were encouraged to recognise their own talents and gifts.