Run Forrest run! : About Parkour as a tool in a humanitarian life skills intervention

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Teologiska institutionen

Abstract: Aim:                Parkour is a relatively new action sport, which is not only popular in non-conflict regions but also in regions where armed conflict is taking place. When being featured in the media, youth from conflict regions frequently report that Parkour has helped them to deal with the consequences of armed conflict. Although Parkour is being used in psychosocial and life skills interventions in European countries, and despite the fact that action sports are used in humanitarian assistance, there is no research on the potential of Parkour as a tool in humanitarian interventions. The aim of this thesis is to analyse how Parkour can be used in humanitarian aid interventions, particularly focusing on its potential for life skills interventions. In order to do so, a mapping of Parkour teams in conflict regions is conducted. What is more, example cases highlight the importance Parkour has for youth in conflict regions. Lastly, a qualitative thematic analysis, will review the cases and academic literature, in order to discuss to what extent these characteristics coincide with the ten life skills as they were outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO). Methods:       Mapping is limited to the timeframe 2013 – 2018 and to countries which display a high amount of organized violence within said timeframe. Furthermore, qualitative thematic analysis in combination with a review of relevant literature is used, in order to understand what Parkour’s potential for life skills interventions could be. Findings:         The mapping indicates that Parkour teams and individuals are active in 16 out of the 22 countries which comply with the mapping criteria. The cases further exemplify that for many practitioners in the conflict regions, Parkour is used as a tool to deal with the consequences of armed conflict.  The qualitative thematic analysis shows that Parkour’s characteristics seem to coincide with the 10 life skills laid out by the WHO. Conclusion:    Action sports are already being used in aid interventions. Parkour’s assets in particular are multiple. It is an accessible, cost-effective and popular sport that youth globally and in conflict regions is attracted to. That, in combination with its characteristics and social media based nature, could be compelling arguments to use Parkour in humanitarian assistance.

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