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Germany: Diocese of Essen, Lebenswert Project in Duisburg. Social integration through sport

The “Lebenswert” project (value of life) of the Diocese of Essen, developed in the city of Duisburg, is a nominee for the “German Civic Commitment Award” 2016. Lebenswert is an all-encompassing project of assistance to the needy, as well as an athletics club for refugees, organised and run by Fr. Tobias Breer, a Premonstratensian monk at Hamborn Abbey, who uses sports like the marathon and the ultra-marathon as a means to evangelise and foster social integration among refugees and asylum seekers. The “Lebenswert” project has been running since 2007, and the athletic activities with the refugees are managed by the volunteers of the project and by diocesan priests. The result is an exchange between cultures through sport, and the physical activity also reduces the stress of social disadvantage and helps collect money for the most needy citizens of Duisburg. “Lebenswert” has become an important counselling body for the city. Besides general social counselling, the project also provides a wide range of auxiliary services: from tutoring in German language acquisition to training in professional pastoral ministry, based on the principle of helping people through self-help. Sports activities are a means of socialization, and the leading role of Fr. Tobias, who has already run two marathons in January this year, “helps attract donations that are used to fund projects” promoting the adoption and education of poor children.

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