Free to run


Free to Run works with marginalised women and girls in Iraq between the ages of 15 and 25, the majority of whom have experienced trauma related to war. The organisation provides sports and life training skills to girls and women from a wide variety of backgrounds in Iraq. Operating in Erbil, in the Kurdistan Region, it also works with internally displaced persons in camps in the nearby Nineveh Plains. The organisation works closely with the community including schools and parents on the value of sports, including for those with disabilities. Participants run and hike with their team three to five times per week and volunteer in their community. The Life Skills through Sports (LSS) programme, designed in collaboration with a UNICEF Education Specialist, teaches participants communication skills, conflict negotiation and leadership. Through its programmes the organisation aims to increase the leadership skills of participants and wants to create more equitable access to public sport, giving girls the opportunity to engage in running, camping, kayaking and skiing. Using sports as a platform, Free to Run works towards the development and expansion of a widespread grassroots network of females who have the right skills to lead their communities through change and towards peace. Free to Run, which also works in Afghanistan, hosts week-long inter-regional leadership events two or three times per year, taking participants out of their usual environments and giving them the opportunity to experience new places and cultures, and participate in leadership and team building workshops.