Helping Children Overcome Disaster Trauma Through Post-Emergency Psychosocial Sports Programs

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Swiss Academy for Development

In recent years international governments, humanitarian aid organisations, and corporations have been turning to sports and play programmes as an innovative method to address numerous health and social problems. Projects have been launched that utilise sports as a ‚psychosocial intervention in countries that have suffered from disasters, including natural catastrophes, internal conflicts, wars or illness pandemics. A central question in the implementation of these programmes is: can children and youth who have experienced severe stress and/or psychological trauma due to disasters, be supported in restoration of normal healthy coping functioning and be prevented from experiencing more long term mental health problems through their participation in sports and play activities? This report will explore these questions in more depth, by examining relevant background theories, and provide examples of the uses and research of sport as a psychosocial intervention tool in rehabilitating children and youth from disaster related trauma. The ultimate aim is to begin to identify effective mechanisms of psychosocial sports interventions, and identify best practices in implementation of psychosocial sports programs.

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Children and armed conflict



Mental Health

Mental health and psychosocial support

Play and recreation


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