Outside, it’s -7, but inside the gymnastics hall at the Polytechnic School in Voronezh there’s a lot of warmth – and we’re not just talking about the reading on the thermometer here: one hundred children from the three institutions Inter Campus is involved in (Sovrasova, Semilukij and Bobrov) have gathered here with their teachers for a day of fun and games. While one half of the children get involved in a football tournament, the other half, who are looked after by volunteers from our local partner Obscie Dieti (‘Common Kids Foundation’), draw and outline what they think of the values of Inter Campus on large tables. Solidarity, friendship, fun, courage etc. They then go to play football, while the first group start to draw. This switch is done so as to allow the children to express themselves in the best possible way. In the end, there’s a wonderful cake in the shape of a football pitch with biscuits in the shape of players for everyone to tuck into (including the adults).
It’s March, and this is how Inter Campus’ latest trip to Voronezh begins. It’s a great party which allows all of these children – especially those with the most severe behavioural difficulties – to experience a moment of joy and belonging with the others. We really do see signs of improvement from every child, and sometimes it’s very evident. This is confirmed to us by the teachers and the assistant psychologist at the school: the sports activities put on by our local coaches Vadim and Alexej really help when it comes to the educational work carried out by those who teach the children. This is because the activities teach the youngsters how to manage certain situations that are difficult for some of them through playing and having fun together. This is something we notice better in the following days, and their obvious improvement makes us happy. Because this is why we began our project here together with Pirelli Russia: to use football as a medium through which people can be helped. Obviously, the children are only focused on playing and enjoying themselves – a job which they take very seriously! 'When are we having another party?' they ask us. 'Soon, if you study and behave yourselves', we say. They all promise as one. And how could we possibly say to them 'no'?