Researchers: Nicole Ives1, Hend Alqawasma1, Lyn Morland1, Paula Kline2, Marjorie Rabiau1, and Emilia Gonzalez1
Affiliation: McGill University1 and Montreal City Mission2
Research Partner: Montreal City Mission
Keywords: Refugee children, recreation, integration, belonging, summer camp
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Objective: This research describes the experiences of campers, parents and staff who were part of Camp Cosmos in the summer of 2018, highlighting their perspectives on the Camp’s strengths and key benefits as well as areas of improvement.
Justification: There is very limited research on the sense of belonging held by refugee children and parents in early childhood educational and recreational settings. Assessments of integration often center on financial independence and access to rights and services. Sustainable integration, however, is much broader than economic participation; long-term integration consists of social, economic, cultural, and political participation in the host country while maintaining a relationship with the country of origin. For refugee children, participation in new educational contexts like Camp Cosmos typically creates a greater sense of belonging, which has been associated with lower depression and higher self-efficacy.
Practical goal: Study findings can be used to inform research-based models and policy regarding culturally grounded recreational programs. Such programs would work towards developing a sense of belonging among refugee children and families by supporting their integration.
Primary Audience: service providers, early childhood education and recreational program managers and staff, policy makers, and refugee families
Researchers used qualitative methods to determine how participants see their own stories of belonging. In-depth interviews were used, allowing participants to respond at length to open-ended questions. Participants were selected through ‘purposive’ sampling, where those at Camp Cosmos in summer 2018 were recruited for the study.
Interviews were conducted with 14 campers, 2 staff members, and a counselor in training as well as a parent focus group discussion with 5 parents. Data collection with children included storytelling and drawings.
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