How are CWS and fitness competitions related? On a chilly Sunday in November, Liberated Fitness in New York City generously agreed to host Rep It for Refugees, where $1,610 was raised for the CWS response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Gym members and their friends signed up to participate in a fitness competition held in two divisions with different workouts per slot. Every dollar of the proceeds went to CWS to help Syrian refugees resettled in the US and in the CWS response in Serbia to assist Syrian refugees entering Europe.
To say that the event was a success is an understatement. Seeing a lively group of individuals excited and proud to be contributing to a humanitarian cause was a true inspiration. The participants were incredibly encouraging of one another throughout the competition and actively sought out to tag CWS on social media as they were documenting their experiences throughout the day. Seeing the motivation and perseverance of the participants, both women and men at different levels, and their equally enthusiastic desire to learn more about the work of CWS and contribute to a good cause was a kind reminder that faith in humanity can be restored in our communities among like-minded individuals with a shared desire to use their passions and hobbies, however varied, for social change.
As we watched participants compete, we noticed that neighbors and passers-by stopped to observe the competition and glance at the fliers we posted advertising the event. Even a taxi driver stopped by to ask us what was going on. The event was put together in only a week’s time but garnered lots of interest and participants on short notice. Donations as large as $250 came from individuals around the country who were unable to attend the event but offered their steadfast support. As I observed my colleagues planning the event and watched it unfold so gracefully, I realized how easy it is to use one’s hobbies and passions for the greater good. Maybe you are not a fitness competitor but a student, a musician or an artist. Maybe you are an aspiring chef or a soccer player. Wherever our identities lie beyond refugee resettlement, many of us have well-established communities outside of the workplace. Why not use those communities for the greater good?
Accessing our communities is something we do every day subconsciously. Why not use that access to inspire change? If enough communities are mobilized to support and advocate on behalf of refugees, perhaps we can indeed inspire change at a higher level. Rep it for Refugees inspired me to brainstorm creative ways that the access I already have to my community can be used for social change. Right now, the world is interested in how refugees are vetted before coming to the US. We must find creative ways to mobilize our communities for the greater good.
Please check out Liberated Fitness’s Facebook Page, where you can find more photos and videos of the event.
Hana Sahar is a Family Reunification Specialist at CWS.