Teaching refugees to slackline
In March 2017, the Crossing Lines team connected with a local circus arts group, cirquenciel, to teach slacklining to refugee children at a school in Beirut, Lebanon. In 6 hours, we taught nearly 180 kids the basics of slacklining. We learned some new words in Arabic, like “slow down” and “keep breathing” and the kids had fun sharing their English with us. It was a test run for our new initiative: slacklining with refugees.
Now we’re partnering with slackline companies and refugee resettlement organizations to bring slacklining to refugees across the U.S. and in Lebanon. By the end of 2017, we will have Crossing Lines projects in running three U.S. cities and in Beirut.
In each city, we’re connecting local slackliners with refugee communities and resettlement organizations, teaching classes and holding slackline social events. Slacklining teaches confidence, balance, and focus. Communities naturally form around it, teaching and encouraging each other. We believe slacklining can help refugees settle in to new lives by helping them find diverse social circles within existing slackline communities.
Slacklining teaches balance, coordination, and proprioception (body awareness) while building core muscle and training fine muscle control. As skills develop, it provides a sense of accomplishment and confidence, empowering people in other aspects of their lives.
Most importantly, slacklines have an innate ability to bring people together. The act of wobbling and walking on a thin strip of webbing is so inherently silly that people let their guard down and open up to one other more easily than in a more structured environment. And like many sports, slacklining comes with a universal language of gestures and smiles, making it an ideal medium for connecting people across borders and cultures.