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From Sport to Autonomy

"Hey my name is Pawel

I've worked for Decathlon Poland for 12 years now – currently I’m a Leader of Development in Poland.

The story of my project started 6 years ago when I met one priest, who's life mission is to help young kids – teens, who have been given fewer chances, to find a better start in their lives. He has invited me for a summer canoeing camp in 2013. It was a moment in my live when I wanted to do something for the others. So as the initiative is strongly connected with sport and gives so much to the others, along with the fact that I met fantastic people over there , I have decided to get involved in it. I have been a part of it for over 5 years now. My role is to show the beneficiaries that it’s possible to achieve important/interesting things in live, to be with them, practice sport together and take care a bit of the  "management"  during the camps. What’s interesting is that my background is similar to the background of those young people. I grew up in incomplete family in the neighborhood that was quite dangerous. Many of my friends ended up in prison.

 

As said above: 5 years ago thanks to Decathlon Foundation, I have been granted 14,700 Euros for this project. The money was spent to supply association with :

15 tents

5 windsurfing boards

Dozens of ski boots and ski helmets

The equipment was used for 5 years during summer and winter camps.

These camps are crucial part of association's program. Teenagers with whom volunteers work during the year are gathered together twice a year. There are around 80 adolescents for each camp. During these couple of weeks we are together, we are trying to teach them responsibility, respect, some universal laws. Trying to show them the benefits of sport, to help them having normal holidays as their peers have. Kids are responsible for meal preparation, keeping the place tidy, they are taking part in several classes like dance, self-defense and ethics.

Under-privileged beneficiaries are recruited from broken families, families with financial difficulties, alcohol problems, orphanages etc.

During the year the association accompanies the kids on regular basis, helping them with their homework, granting psychological help if needed, helping them to find a job.

3 of former beneficiaries are now working for Decathlon

What's still in my mind is the picture of Igor who I met 5 years ago – little (11 years old) fellow who had some coordination difficulties – it took him 6 days to be able to ski down at blue slope – the smile on his face when he did it – unforgettable. Now Igor helps the association in organisational issues.

Another picture I carry with me are 5 boys who grew up in orphanage in which they were sexually abused – they were bullies who directed their aggression toward other participants of last summer camp. We have decided to devote more time to them – and in fact what they needed was that – the time, attention, appreciation – 2 of them found their « camp girlfriends » there – and in fact what they needed was a touch of another human being.

I'm in touch with many adolescents who took part in these camps – some of them study, some of them found a job – I see it all makes sense.

 

Unfortunately one year ago the warehouse in which we stored part ouf our equipment has been burnt down along with big part of the goods purchased thanks to Decathlon Foundation.

I have decided to seek for support one more time – again I was granted 3000 Euros from the Foundation and another 3000 from Polish Decathlon stores in Warsaw  - Thanks to that we will be able to replace big part of what we've lost.

Sport has got so much to give :D

 

Pawel, Decathlon teammate

 

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