Physical activity brings joy and smiles across nationalities and language barriers: Danish pilot


Kira Mogensen and Allan Skoven Pedersen, Dansk Skoleidræt

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, its hostilities are targeting civilians, and thousands of lives have been lost. More than 5.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine. According to the UNHCR, this is already the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world since World War II. More than 7 million Ukrainians are displaced by the acts of war. Many of these Ukrainian refugees have moved to the Nordic countries, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark, and ISCA set up a project which we were invited into. The project’s focus is integration and learning through sport and play, in the believe of a better integration for the Ukrainian children in their new, hopefully temporary, homes.

The Danish School Sport Organization is very proud to be a part of this project. Our daily main focus is to support all children in Danish Schools, to have a more active and variated day during school time. Danish School Sport Organization have worked for active children and active learning in Denmark for more than 75 years and have a great deal of experience about this topic, but it was new for us to work specific with supporting integration of refugees through sport.

All partners from the four Nordic countries met in Copenhagen in February 2023 to a kick off meeting, where we set the direction and found what each partner was able to contribute with. Danish School Sport’s contribution was to support the integration of refugees from Ukraine in schools through brain breaks and games with a social focus. It was important for us to supply all our games with video material, where teachers and refugees were able to see the activities and hereby reduce the barrier of the language. We have made a catalogue of 10 games with a social and including focus all of them described in Danish and English and all of them supported by video.

We have had three different Danish schools, who include Ukrainian refugees, participating in this project. The results speak out loud in the statements from some of the teachers:

  • “The children are together, laughing and having fun during the activities which support their relations in break time.”
  • “To be active together without being forced to be understandable through language is a big advantage and very positive for the refugees.”
  • “The activities open doors for new relations, which is so valuable for the Ukrainian refugees.”

Being a part of this project has made us even more sure of the work we value every day, that physical activity and sport gathers children and brings joy and smiles across nationalities and language barriers. 

Photos: Dansk Skoleidræt