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Parkour and surfer survival

Find out about young Syrians who practise Parkour – the sport of climbing, running and jumping around buildings – in the bombed-out buildings of Inkhil. In addition, discuss luck and preparation in times of crisis with the story of a surfer who survived 32 hours at sea.

Parkour in Syria

Offer young people a choice. With limited time for discussion, would they rather discuss life in war-affected Syria? Or talk about Parkour, the sport of free running, climbing and jumping around buildings?

Invite ideas and reasons. Then show the photograph :

Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri and Muhannad al-Kadiri demonstrate their skills amid damaged buildings in the city of Inkhil in Syria© Info

The young people in the photo are members of a Parkour team – the sport of climbing, running and jumping around buildings. They practise in the town of Inkhil, southern Syria, under the supervision of their trained coach, 19-year-old Ibrahim al-Kadiri. He discovered Parkour during the time he spent as a refugee in Jordan.

Ask young people why those in war-affected regions might want to take part in extreme sports like Parkour. Why might team sports or activities help you in challenging times?

Read these statements from Ibrahim’s 18-year-old brother, Muhannad, who is on the Parkour team:

  • “When I jump from a high place, I feel free and I enjoy it.”
  • "Parkour gets us out of the atmosphere of war and makes us forget some of our pain and sorrow … It makes me feel mythical."

Discuss feeling free and forgetting pain and sorrow. Sports can be so absorbing that participants have to give them their entire focus, leaving no room for anxiety or other emotions. Discuss this state, often referred to as “flow”. Can young people see how it might help people forget emotional pain and sorrow and “get out of the atmosphere of war”?

Try to find parallels in young people’s own lives. Sports or activities that encourage flow don’t have to be dangerous, as Parkour is. It’s hard to think of anything else if you’re taking a penalty in football, or practising dance moves. Invite suggestions from the group about practical activities that help free their mind of everyday concerns. Which work better than others?

Surfer survival

A surfer survived 32 hours in the sea off the west coast of Scotland after winds and strong currents carried him off shore. Matthew Bryce, 22, was picked up by the Belfast Coastguard search-and-rescue helicopter in the Irish Sea, 13 miles from land. He was treated in hospital for exhaustion and hypothermia.

A spokeswoman for the Coastguard said Matthew was extremely lucky, adding that his extra-thick wetsuit would have helped him survive. She told reporters, "He did the right thing by staying with his surfboard, and that certainly aided his survival."

Discuss luck and preparation at times of crisis:

  • Describe the difference between things you cannot control, such as winds and currents, and your response to them, such as wearing a warm wet suit.
  • What do people mean by the phrase, “you make your own luck”? Think of incidents you were involved in where luck combined with good planning.
  • What would young people do to plan for an outdoor activity to keep them safe?

Talk about hypothermia. The average temperature of the Irish Sea is around 11°C in May. Our bodies quickly lose heat in cold water, affecting how the brain, heart and lungs work. The group can learn the signs of hypothermia and the key steps to help on the First Aid Learning for Young People website.


This resource was written by P J White of Alt62 and published in June 2017.


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