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award Sports Solidarity for a nursing student

Teresa Gutiérrez obtained the award for her Basketball Workshop for immigrants.

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The nursing student with the boys participating in a basketball practice.
PHOTO: Courtesy
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Teresa Gutiérrez with the award collected at the Sports Gala 2014.
PHOTO: Manuel Castells
22/05/14 17:09 Miriam Salcedo

Teresa Gutiérrez, a second year student of the University of Navarra's NursingSchool , was awarded at the Sports Gala 2014 the award Deporte Solidario for her active partnership in the social and school integration of children of immigrants, through basketball. In this Basketball Workshop, organized together with the Core Foundation, (a non-profit social interest foundation that supports immigrants in their social and labor integration process) more than 40 children between 5 and 15 years old have participated. The winner wanted to share her experience with us:

What does award mean to you?
A recognition of the love dedicated to these children by the 13 volunteers. I am very proud of them, as well as of my School, who has helped to make this project a reality, of Tantaka (Banco de Tiempo Solidario of the University of Navarra) and of the Core Foundation, for their constant support.

"Basketball has given them work as a team to achieve a goal, concern for the teammate, discipline, respect for the coach..."

How did you come up with the idea for the Basketball Workshop?
One day I went to the Reading Workshop of the Core Foundation, organized by the Library Services of the University of Navarra. I saw the place, the number of children in such a small space... I realized that these children didn't have any recreational activity and I thought of offering them one. And what better way than through sports!

I have been a basketball player for many years and I am currently a federated referee of committee Navarro. I thought that the basketball internship , because of the values it implies, could offer them a lot: work as a team to achieve a goal, concern for the teammate, discipline, respect for the coach... Playing basketball they would necessarily relate to each other and to the coaches-volunteers. Everything fit together perfectly.

At summary, I thought of basketball as a way for the social integration of these children. If we taught them how to play, they would acquire a sufficient level to play on their school teams and thus integrate with their peers at class. 

"The children have had the chance to enjoy a little bit of that childhood, as any child their age deserves."

Did it cost a lot to set up the workshop?
The truth is that no, the process was very fast. Within two weeks of coming up with the idea, we were already having our first training session. In each basketball session we have been implementing improvements: more balls, material, better organization, more volunteers issue ... And it has grown to what it is today.

What do you highlight from the experience, both for the children and for you?
I think that, as in all volunteer activities actions, the financial aid has been mutual, bidirectional. From them, I highlight their contagious enthusiasm and their smiles. At the same time they show courage, desire to be children, to play and they are always grateful. Each training is a masterful class of the reality of children who hide many needs. Without a doubt it has been a touching experience and I know that I can speak for all the volunteers: it has been a bath of sensitivity.

Through this activity, these children have the possibility to enjoy a little bit of that childhood, as any child of their age deserves. They have learned to be a team, we have taken care of them as group and each one as a player. It is incredible to see how a mixture of so many cultures has result a perfect harmony. It has allowed all of us to grow a lot. 

"Every culture means enrichment for the group"

What ages and nationalities are the children?
It's a very varied team, the ages range from five to fifteen years old. We have a good pool of youngsters: their mothers bring their baby siblings to training sessions with them, and the three and four year olds try to sneak in and train like the older ones.

They are from very diverse backgrounds and cultures: Russians, Ecuadorians, Romanians, Africans... Whether they are Muslims, Orthodox or Catholics, they all play together and enjoy the sport. In training, we don't expect them to adapt to one culture (ours) and give up their own. On the contrary: each culture is an enrichment for group.

How long did the workshop last and do you plan to repeat it next year?
The workshop lasted seven months: from November 2013 to May 2014.  

Do you plan to repeat the course next year?
Of course, next year we will continue. With many improvements and collaborations that have already been arranged with other institutions. The Sports Gala has been a great opportunity to publicize volunteer activities and, as a result, many people have contacted me offering us financial aid very valuable. The volunteers are looking forward to starting again, we are going to miss the children in the summer.

What has the Core Foundation's participation consisted of?
The Core Foundation has been the link between volunteers and children. The children who now attend our training sessions on Saturdays are, for the most part, the same ones who attend the Foundation's weekly workshops.

Have you always been interested in volunteer activities?
The truth is that this is the first time I have participated in a volunteer activities of this level. I had previous experience visiting the elderly or volunteering at a charity event, but nothing comparable. I think once you find a volunteer activities where you offer something you are passionate about, the volunteer activities eventually wins you over. That's something I've seen in our coaching staff. It's very important to enjoy every minute of the time you spend volunteering, because when it's over, you can't wait for next week to start again.