"In my work I talk a lot with children, at TeamUp movement is the key"

During the day Robert (23) is a psychologist in special education, and in the evening TeamUp facilitator. This is what Robert's Mondays have looked like for over two years. The biggest difference? "In my work I talk a lot with children, at TeamUp it's all about moving. It’s a universal language."

TeamUp volunteer Robert (23) helps refugee children work on personal and social skills.

"I know children have been through a lot, so I'm here for fun," says Robert. Fun and distraction are desperately needed, because the almost 7,000 children living in asylum seekers' centres have been exposed to conflict, loss and fear. In the Netherlands, they have to deal with new stress factors; they often have to move, get used to a new culture and feel their parents' anxiety about the uncertain asylum procedures. This has a negative impact on the children's wellbeing.

Working on skills in a playfull manner

Through movement we teach children how to deal with their emotions. They also learn to recognise their emotions. "Many children have become quiet and withdrawn, or even aggressive. You can see this in the activities," says Robert. "By conducting weekly activities, there’s some structure introduced to their lives. They get steady footing on a situation, and have something to look forward to". Together with five other facilitators, he creates a safe environment for children, where they can work on personal and social skills in a playful way.

War Child TeamUp voor refugee children - volunteers

The weekly sports and game activities TeamUp provides, offer structure so refugee children get steady footing.

Photo: Michael Jessurun

Difficult moments

Robert also experiences difficult and challenging moments as a facilitator. "Children come and go. And things don't always go well between the children. Sometimes they don't want to work together or they find it difficult to make new friendships". Facilitators receive training from TeamUp where they learn how to solve such a situation.

"Through a play element we ensure that children, unconsciously, work together or play together. Take, for example, having two children throw a ball to each other. They didn’t want to play together in the first place. But of course they want to score a point. So they work together, albeit unconsciously", Robert explains. It seems to be something very small. "But because of this, we see that children also come in contact with each other outside the sessions," continues Robert.


The more sessions they attend, the bigger the improvement in the children. This is also confirmed by Robert: "Children are working better together.” But it's not only children who benefit from TeamUp. Facilitating the sessions also provides Robert with energy after a hard working day.

“I know that at TeamUp I make the children happy with the activities we do, I see them relaxing. And they make me just as happy."
Robert (23)
Door de TeamUp-activiteiten krijgen voor oorlog gevluchte kinderen weer vertrouwen in zichzelf, anderen en de toekomst - War Child

Each activity has a specific goal related to themes such as dealing with anger, stress and interacting with others.

Photo: Michael Jessurun

Valuable work

Every week Robert gives a lot of time and energy to the children, but he gets double in return. "It's a lot of fun to do, really valuable work. Honestly, I think it’s time that everyone would benefit from giving up.

TeamUp in the Netherlands - refugee children

Through play children learn capabilities that will be usefull in their daily lives.

Photo: Michael Jessurun

You can facilitate activities for refugee children just like Robert.

TeamUp is looking for new facilitators now. Activities are at 29 locations throughout the Netherlands, so there’s always a location near you.

TeamUp is supported by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).

Logo AMIF - Europese Unie fonds voor asiel, migratie en integratie - partner War Child

the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF)

The European Commission's Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund promotes the efficient management of migration flows and the implementation, strengthening and development of a common approach to asylum and immigration in the European Union.

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