Cross-cultural bonding through exercise

How the cultural integration class at Munich’s Ostpreußen School in Germany is using Muuvit to integrate child refugees and encourage them to exercise more


...but in this class we stick together. That’s the motto of the cultural integration class 1 at Ostpreußen School in Munich. The 23 members of the only such class in this school are between 6 and 11 years old and mostly come from Syria, Afghanistan and Morocco. Rami, Lorin and Antonio joined at the start of the school year, with Samira, Sonia and Fatima coming in just a few weeks ago. Class tutor Ms Brauchart reports:

“The children are at very different stages of their development, so teaching them is a challenge every day. We also have new children coming in while others have already been here a while. Their language skills and ages are very varied, and some of them need extra help because of other problems too, such as hearing impairments and so on. So you have to be very flexible.”


A week ago, the class joined Muuvit, a free exercise programme for children in years 1 to 6. Muuvit encourages them to engage in physical activity by rewarding each ten-minute stint with points which they can use to move forward on a virtual tour. “Our goal is to help get kids moving and make them curious about other cultures through their virtual journey,” says Juha Villanen of Muuvit Health and Learning Oy Ltd. “We started our trip in Munich,” says Ms Brauchart, “and then travelled to Venice.” From there her class will gradually move on to Reykjavik in Iceland. 80% of transition class members are housed in a temporary accommodation. Sonia and her sister Sima say their favourite form of exercise outside of school is skipping, while most of the boys prefer football. When asked where he comes from, on friendly boy replies: “My name’s Rami. I’m eight years old and come from Syria, Turkey, Italy and Germany,” and describes his lengthy trek to Munich. Sumayeh, however, does not yet understand the question, so the boy next to her translates. Sumayeh smiles. “Sumayeh Afghanistan,” she says. When it comes to integration, Muuvit is helping children by giving them a joint objective to strive for: to get to know different countries.



“Whenever we do Muuvit, they know we are going to get moving together,” says Ms Brauchart, and shows them the next exercise for their upcoming break. The class has also decided together to be as active as possible both at school and in their free time – because they want to visit as many countries as they can and gradually get closer to their top destination: Iceland.