Twenty-year-old Jordanian Waleed Abu Nada on Saturday became the first Arab to ever receive the Filippa Angel Award, a prize recognising the “sustainable and extraordinary actions” conducted by youth for the benefit of others, through acts of social, ecological or cultural nature.
During the awarding ceremony, which took place in Sayn, Germany, Abu Nada was honoured for his work in Al Baqaa refugee camp, where he established The Champ Camp, the first Olympic weightlifting school of its kind in Jordan a year ago.
“I am really honored to receive such a recognition and very thankful to the foundation for selecting me for such a prize. This is a really big milestone in my journey and I hope that being the first Arab to receive this award will inspire more positive change in the region,” Abu Nada told The Jordan Times after the event, dedicating his prize to “the greatest group of people I know: My family at The Champ Camp”.
Inspired by his passion for Olympic weightlifting, Abu Nada founded The Champ Camp to “give the kids at the camp an escape from the troubles and consequences of poverty in the area, such as violence and drugs”.
“Al Baqaa is an area that is extremely poor, very crowded and has almost no opportunities for its inhabitants,” he remarked, noting that “I intended to highlight how Olympic weightlifting could help in saving the youth of that area”.
The largest refugee camp in Jordan, Al Baqaa currently hosts over 119,000 Palestinians who are confronted to major economic and social challenges, according to UNRWA.
While the Filippa’s Angel award, which was set up in honour of late Filippa Sayn-Wittgenstein, initially aimed to reward Europeans under 30 making “outstanding contributions” to their community, organisers decided to include Abu Nada as a recognition of his “exceptional efforts” in helping underprivileged communities through sports.
“Waleed’s project caught our attention because it is exactly what my sister Filippa would have loved to endorse. she was incredibly interested in the Middle East, Jordan especially and visited it many times,” said member of the jury and sister of Filippa Sayn-Wittgenstein , Alexandra Hunyady, adding “The Champ Camp gives unseen opportunities to the local children and in particular the girls. Especially with the current political and social situation in the region, we thought it is important to recognise his incredible work and help out as much as we could.”
“The Champ Camp empowers young boys and girls in Jordan’s largest refugee camp, by tackling issues on an athletic, social and academic level through sports-based youth development. This school gives them a platform to achieve and fulfil their dreams despite the unbelievable struggles they face on a daily basis,” Abu Nada highlighted.
Some of the successes achieved by the Champ Camp attendees include 13 medals seized in Jordan’s first ever Junior Weightlifting tournament in April 2018, three of the Champ Camp girls winning medals in the West Asian Olympic Weightlifting tournament in October 2017, and young Zaid Al Jabre being selected by the national team who took part in qualifications for the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires 2018.
For Abu Nada, The Champ Camp’s long-term objective is “not only to build champion athletes, but champion people who will succeed in all aspects of their lives”.
Founded in 2003 by the Don Bosco Foundation Centre, the Filippa’s Angel Foundation honours young Europeans who “help others in a lasting and extraordinary way, whether it’s in the social, environmental, or cultural field”, according to its vision statement.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Copyright The Jordan Times. All rights reserved.