Olympic Campaign To Highlight Plight Of Refugees

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will feature 10 refugees competing on their own team for the first time in Olympic history. Now, the agency Purpose is joining forces with the new #TeamRefugees movement in order to raise awareness of the plight of all refugees. 

This #TeamRefugees campaign is part of a larger initiative led by UNICEF and other partners, including UNHCR, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, the ONE campaign, TheirWorld and World Vision, to test a new collaborative approach to more effectively create positive change for children.  

The initiative, called Article 26 in a nod to the provision in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that provides for the right to education, aims to boost public engagement around the Syrian refugee education crisis. 

At #TeamRefugees’ center is a film Purpose developed with UNIT9 that tells the story of a young Iraqi refugee boxer named Abdullah whose family was forced to flee his country after he was kidnapped and threatened. The creative shows how Abdullah has been inspired by the Olympic refugee team to get even better at his sport, knowing that there is now a podium on which refugees with talents and dreams can stand alongside everyone else. 



"We knew that we wanted to highlight the significance of the refugee Olympic team through the eyes of a young refugee athlete," says the film’s creative lead, Lauren Rodman, of Purpose. "By showing the world what this historic moment means to an Olympic hopeful who also happens to be a refugee, we are telling an incredibly emotionally resonant story to inspire the rest of the world to support the team."

The :60-second film is available at TeamRefugees .com and a longer-form two-minute version also runs across social media channels. People are encouraged to support the team via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat with the @TeamRefugees. 

While #TeamRefugees is operating as a hashtag campaign online, the larger Article 26 movement “encourages offline actions that citizens can take in support of refugees within their borders, such as church groups running book drives for refugee children, universities funding scholarships for refugee undergraduate students and volunteers helping refugees navigate rafts of administrative paperwork to be eligible for financial assistance for schooling,” says David Ponet, parliamentary and civil society partnerships Specialist, UNICEF. 

So far, the initiative has focused on the target markets of the U.S., the UK, Canada and Germany. It has recently broadened its reach to go global. Article 26 is supported by a mix of actors from humanitarian organizations, as well as celebrities and the private sector, he says.  

"We wanted to feature the story of a young refugee athlete so it was a full team effort to reach across our networks and organizations across multiple countries, to find the right young athlete who would be willing to share his story," says Rodman. "When we met Abdullah, saw his passion for his sport and heard his story, we were honored to support him in sharing his story and support for #TeamRefugees with the world."

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