Climbing to the top

Grant report

by Yoga and Sport with Refugees









Target Group: Refugees in Lesvos, Ioannina and Athens
Impact: Bouldering: 5 trips / 7 participants || Trail running: 4 trail competitions / 20 participants

Project description

YSR was born in October 2017 on the island of Lesvos, in response to the massive need for healthy safe spaces, the sense of community and a place to work on mental and physical health. Sports can break down barriers, thus creating a safe meeting space for cooperation between cultures where everyone participates and becomes a family. We work together to build people’s skills by promoting an environment conducive to continuous learning throughout our organization. Our teams are intentionally diverse, so that we can learn from each other and become truly stronger together. YSR empowers refugees to believe in themselves and their dreams through their strength. In all our activities, our community is in the lead because we believe that agency is central to empowerment.

Project Data

Where did the activities take place?

Ioannina & Lesvos, Greece

When did the activities take place?

From March 2022 to October 2022
Trail race:
17th April
17th September
2nd October
Climbing outdoor
20th, 27th May
3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th June
2nd, 3rd, 8th, 15th, 22th July
20th August
22th October

How many days and hours per day of physical activity were included in the activities

Most of them were full days, some outdoor climbing trips only mornings (because of the heat)

How many participants took part in the activities?


Describe the target group that took part in the activities

Climbing: The main demographic are refugees from Afghanistan, Congo, Kurdistan and Iraq, living in Katsikas Refugee Camp. Other participants came from the local Greek community and volunteers from other organisations working with refugees in the Ioannina area.
Trail Running: We started a beginner running group for women in May. The women who took part were refugee mothers living in Katsikas Refugee Camp, from late twenties to fifties.

Trail running: Our running team is mainly composed of young guys from Afghanistan who practice different sports in our gym, including running. We also have volunteers joining the team and the race.
Outdoor climbing: The participants were a mix of young refugees, Greek locals and spanish volunteers from Maikai organization who supports our climbing groups in Ioannina and Lesvos.

What was the average age of participants?


What was the physical activity level of the participants?


How many boys/men?


How many girls/women?


Money received from the Coalition in €:

3.500 EUR

What did you use the money for (guides, gear, accommodation…)?

Climbing gear:
ropes, birdies, safety lines, chalk, harnesses, carabiners
Running: Sports bras and leggings, running shoes, race bibs, food for races, water bottles
Trail running: race bibs, food (snacks, water), transportation (gas for the van).
Climbing: food (snacks, water), transportation (gas for the van).


Project Testimonials

How did I feel about the project before it started?

The project was a little restricted in terms of the scope and capacity before this project, due to financial constraints. Breaking down barriers for women to access sport is something we are passionate about, but sometimes cannot fully realise.

It was a very exciting plan to have the Maikai climbers team coming and organising events but we were thinking about how we could bring everyone together to other locations. For the running we had a lot of hope to be able to participate into the competition if we had the funds for it, and to be able to spend a great day all together.

What was a challenge?

Starting the running group was difficult, as for the first month, just 2 women came to the activity. However, as is quite foreseeable in this context, eventually more women joined and the group became quite a social one. It was also much more difficult to access the women, due to a newly built perimeter wall around the camp. The social stigma against women taking part in sport or taking time for themselves was also a challenge to overcome.

For the climbing on Lesvos, the challenge was to create a group dynamic because many of the guys never practiced climbing before. For the running we had to prepare for longer distances, get the guys motivated with the goal to participate into the competition. We also wanted to have a more diverse team with women from the

What was your favourite part of the project?

Running: The community of women who run are inspirational. We started with women who had no experience in running, and couldn’t run for more than 30 seconds at a time. After 3 months, they were all able to run, and had the confidence to compete in an official race.
Climbing: Seeing the group become so confident in belaying, giving them skills to join climbing groups wherever they may go.

Trail running: It was a very important moment for all of us to come together, spend time together, build more bonds and community.
Outdoor climbing: After two successful trips the climbing lessons was always full of people from all communities participating. The Maikai team inspired and trained our new climbing teacher Atiqullah and we are grateful to them for this effort.

How will this project influence your outdoor adventures in the future?

This project has removed much of the need for external support for outdoor climbing, as now we can always go and be confident that safety remains a priority, in the hands of refugees leading the project. On top of this, through this project, we managed to connect with the local climbing community in Katsikas.

Trail running: Being able to participate in local running races makes such an impact on our life, (as volunteers, as community members, as running coach!). It motivates our athletes and gives all of us the possibility to go out for new discoveries, to build new memories together.
Outdoor climbing:
Our volunteers in conjunction with the previous climbing instructors managed to successfully repeat the same excursion to Plomari and some smaller ones.

Some Other Things

Would you recommend applying for an #itsgreatoutthere grant?

10 out of 10

How useful would you say the support provided by the Coalition was to your project?

Super useful! And also the follow up conversations about possible other collaborations and partners.