RespAct works with young newly arrived migrants and local children, to empower children and young people to acquire local knowledge to proactively support their inclusion in their local environment. All over Germany, so-called special “welcome classes” have been established for newly arrived migrant and refugee children to facilitate German language and cultural learning and prepare children for entering the German school system. In Berlin alone, seven and a half thousand students attended classes in almost seven hundred welcome classes during the school year 2015/16[1].

Goals and methodology

Our sports and cooperation modules provide open, low-barrier-to-entry settings for a first exchange wkbetween young people without a common language. During project weeks, neighbourhood improvement projects or weekly clubs, our participants experience a comfortable group atmosphere, developing trust and friendships between participants. Hands-on games provide newly arrived migrant children with an opportunity to get to know local children without pressure to perform. They also plan neighborhood actions to enhance positive identification with their local area. Joint sporting exercises foster constructive group dynamics and decrease fear of contact. Along the way, self-confidence, language skills and local knowledge are improved. In sum, RespAct equips children with all necessary prerequisites for a successful integration of individuals and life-worlds.

Opportunities for educators

We put strong emphasis on sustainable project implementation. Next to direct project work with children and young people, we provide training in the RespAct method to teachers, social workers, educators or volunteers in our partner institutions. In the workshops, we discuss easy ways of integrating RespAct modules into daily school work in order to improve group trust, neighborhood solidarity, and violence prevention in the longer term.

[1] Senate of Berlin, Administration for Education, Youth and Science (February, 2016)