Cultural Exchange Supported by SportsUnited
In March 2016, 30 of PeacePlayers International's Palestinian and Israeli youth participants visited the United States for a cultural exchange supported by the United States Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affaris. The participants were able to visit New York City, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and Washington, DC. The trip was the first time some of the Palestinian and Israeli youth had spent a consecutive amount of time with one another as one large group. Gur, and Israeli PeacePlayers from West Jerusalem, had this to say about it: "The trip was like being with your best friends for two weeks. The best part was learning about our different cultures and joking around with each other the entire time!"
South Africa seeing big success with new Monitoring and Evaluation Strategies
PeacePlayers International's South Africa program has been working closely with Director of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), Julie Youes, in the Washington, DC International headquarters in order to identify key activities and improve on data collection. In just one term of using the new focus on M&E, PPI-SA has been able to get coaches more involved, and have engaged with 250 Primary School participants, 120 Leadership Development participants, resulting in a total of 370 program participants.
Northern Ireland PeacePlayers Have a Camp Reunion
Over the summer, PeacePlayers International - Norther Ireland, was able to host camps funded by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister's Together: Building a United Community strategy. In February, 26 PPI-NI participants were able to attend a T:BUC Summer Camp Reunion in Belfast. The reunion helped to reinforce the positive experiences had by all over the summer. Reunion participants were given special tours and heard from local professional athletes who spoke of facing diversity in sport. With the day ending with the good news that funding will be available to host camps again in Summer 2016.
Peace and Wellness Promotion in Cyprus
PeacePlayers International - Cyprus has launched a series of informative healthy nutrition seminars in conjunction of their European Union-funded project called "Promoting Peace and Wellness in Cyprus". Focuses of the series include preventing childhood obesity, the importance of breakfast, and incorporating ideas for carefully replacing the habits of eating fast food with slow foor production and consumpion. The seminars began in January 2016 are presented by experienced Clinical Dieticians and will run through the end of May 2016.
PeacePlayers International - SPIN in Ethiopia
In December, PeacePlayers International (PPI) – Sports and Peace Innovation Network (SPIN) held a training session in Ethiopia led by four new SPIN trainers comprised of local staff, International Fellows and former trainees. Two of the new trainers, Million Biyaylgne and Bryan Franklin, brought their own unique experiences and perspectives to the SPIN initiatives. Biyaylgne was first introduced to PPI as a participant in 2012, during a SPIN project with Worldwide Orphans, which launched a new soccer league for orphans and vulnerable children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. PPI – South Africa International Fellow, Bryan Franklin (from Denver, Colorado), came together with Biyaylgne to work with Save the Children International in refugee camps in the Gambella region of Ethiopia.
PeacePlayers International - Northern Ireland Hosts Largest Jingle Ball Ever
PPI-Northern Ireland hosted its annual Jingle Ball tournament at Lisburn Racquets Club just outside of Belfast. Over the past 3 years, the tournament has doubled in size, from just 12 teams and around 100 participants in 2012, to 21 teams and over 200 participants in 2015.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Visits PeacePlayers International - Cyprus
On December 3, 2015 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took time out of his six-nation European tour to visit PPI-Cyprus and learn how their young leaders are using sport to unite the divided country. Secretary Kerry was in Cyprus for talks with Cypriot leaders to encourage progress toward ending the island’s 40-year conflict.
PeacePlayers International - SPIN in Bosnia
In November, thanks to support from the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, facilitators from PPI - SPIN traveled to Vlasic, Bosnia to see how sport could play a role in bringing these groups together. At a sports facility in the Vlasic mountains, PPI Chief Programs Officer, Gunnar Hagstrom, PPI – Northern Ireland International Fellow, Joe Smith, and PPI – Cyprus Coordinator, Stephanie Nicolas, came together with 20 Serbian, Bosnian and Croat coaches and teachers to learn how sport has been used in some of the world’s toughest conflict areas.
PeacePlayers International - South Africa Has Crowns Champions
In the beginning of November, PPI-South Africa’s season ended with the 26th City Wide Tournament, sponsored by the Laureus Foundation South Africa and Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Approximately 500 participants, 50 volunteers, and 21 PPI-SA coaches and staff took part in the day-long tournament.
PeacePlayers International - Middle East Attends Retreat
In October, participants of the PPI – Middle East program attended a retreat in Kfar Maccabiah. The retreat focused on teamwork, communication, responsibility, and problem solving, all important skills in PeacePlayers, basketball, and youth development.
PPI-South Africa Forms Exciting Partnership With The South Durban Sports Confederation
In September PeacePlayers International-South Africa partnered with the South Durban Sports Confederation to host an under 19 tournament at Assegai Primary School in Durban that featured multiple PeacePlayers teams. This all started when a teacher at Assegai Primary School who had the vision of developing a sports program in the community approached PPI-SA coach Tramayne Adams and eventually introduced Tramayne to Neil Axford of the South Durban Sports Confederation. After a successful tournament, which will hopefully progress into a fruitful partnership between PPI-SA and the South Durban Sports Confederation Mr. Axford said, “Our vision is to use sport to help create a community where there is significantly reduced alcohol and drug abuse, crime, social deviance, and teenage pregnancy. We want all of our children to have access to education, personal development, and safe spaces. We are incredibly excited to partner with PeacePlayers International to help make this vision a reality.”
Friendships Formed at Camp Alpha in Northern Ireland
In the last week of August PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland tested our belief that “children who play together can learn to live together” during Camp Alpha in Belfast where many participants shared rooms with members of a different religion for the first time in their lives. A lot of friendships were formed between these young Catholic and Protestant kids over the successful four days! More recently, new PPI-NI coaches have been trained by our veteran staff and are preparing for another great programming year.
New All-Star Team Excited for Competition in Israel Basketball Association’s Youth League
September marked the start of a new programming year for PeacePlayers International-Middle East. This year, PPI-ME started a new All Star team in the Tamra/Nahariya region of northern Israel for 12-14 year old kids. All-Star teams are fully integrated with Palestinian Arabs and Jews and are able to compete at a high-level against other unaffiliated teams. We wish all of our All-Star teams great success as they compete in the Israel Basketball Association youth league!
PPI-Cyprus Excited For Start of New Programming Year
In the last week of September PeacePlayers-Cyprus celebrated community, teamwork and sport with the Cyprus Youth Council at Ledra palace. Teams from both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities came together and were joined by some local basketball enthusiasts at Ledra palace. The Cyprus Youth Council promoted the importance of active, healthy lifestyles through sport and PeacePlayers demonstrated how basketball is a wonderful tool for bi-communal cooperation. October marks the official start of the basketball season in PPI-CY. Teams have begun gathering together for training as everyone in the PPI-CY office prepares and plans for new activities, community events, Twinnings and tournaments.