In 2016, Brittany Pummell found herself drawn to the refugee crisis in Greece, with a deep desire to assist in this humanitarian disaster so close to home.
There, she worked in camps all over Greece, offering educational aid and community building through active participation. Most recently, she was Field Director in a camp, where she was able to implement her idea of inclusivity and community strength, where aid is available to all refugees.
Whilst she observed that the fundamental needs of refugees were being met - such as food, water and shelter - she noted that there is little to no emphasis on mental health. Refugees have suffered extensive trauma, exacerbated through boredom by being disallowed to work or create normal lives for themselves. Refugees' mental health suffers as a consequence; yet there is apathy amongst responding actors to address this vital need.
Through Brittany's encouragement of active participation, a gym area was built as a result of direct requests from a camp community.
The requests came from people wanting to add purpose to their stagnated life in Greece, giving them a goal to work towards and using exercise to help them feel good about themselves.
Wanting to make exercise and feel-good endorphins available to all refugees, REFUGYM was created!
REFUGYM aims to improve the mental health of refugees through the medium of physical exercise.
We will be a mobile gym, bringing sporting equipment and facilitating exercises to every area in Greece where refugees are being accommodated.
REFUGYM will also have an emphasis on running activities outside the camp to encourage escapism; trips such as hiking, swimming, canoeing, cycling and hiring football grounds.
To make REFUGYM a sustainable project, our aim is to teach refugees to be trainers, in order to encourage the continuation of exercising after we have left. We will also post YouTube videos of our classes, translated into their languages, for people to watch in their own time.
REFUGYM will cater, inclusively, to men, women and children. We will not leave anybody in the refugee community out, because we recognise that exercise is therapeutic for everybody!
Every pound donated will literally change lives, by helping refugees to feel good again.