As 2019 comes to an end, we look back with pride at Play for Peace’s many accomplishments this year. With the support of our global community, thousands of children and youth in more than 20 countries are practicing peace every day, becoming more compassionate people, forming friendships across divides and building thriving communities. Here are a five ways we created peace in 2019:
1. We renewed our commitment to immigrants and refugees, who often flee war and violent conflict to then face xenophobia in their new homes. This year we hosted activities in:
- Mexico, where Play for Peace youth led community service projects and gathered donations for life-saving “rest houses,” which are used by Central American refugees and migrants along their perilous journeys.
- The Netherlands, where our regional coordinator visited a refugee center to support a newly forming Play for Peace Club called Sparks Hope—which includes youth leaders from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and more.
- Italy, where the Maza Play for Peace Club is building bridges between primarily North African immigrants and citizens, supported by local townships desperate to quell the waves of growing hostility and discrimination.
- The United States, where diverse youth are showing their dedication to working together on community service and peace building efforts within rural and urban areas, where tension between identity and politics are high.
2. We promoted compassion and showed our support for religious diversity by:
- Publicly celebrating the United Nations Interfaith Harmony Week around the world, commencing with a live video that reached more than 6,000 viewers.
- Supporting local partners after the Easter terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, initially training over 275 youth from different religious backgrounds in 36 communities, and reaching out to 1,500 children at a time when tensions, stress, and trauma were highest. We returned again in the fall to work with more than 100 youth facilitators.
3. We demonstrated our commitment to mitigating the effects of climate change by:
- Using our global platform to educate our community about climate change during Earth Week, when more than 700 children in 10+ countries came together to learn simple ways they can care for the earth in their daily lives through engaging and fun cooperative play.
- Developing a new Resilience Workshop, which we are launching in partnership with UNICEF India in an area that was deeply affected by flooding. We will initially train 700 teachers who have students who are suffering from trauma and stress, and the impact will be evaluated by researchers at the University of New Hampshire. The workshop will then be shared with the entire Play for Peace community on our new mobile app next year.
4. We focused on bringing Play for Peace to new regions in conflict by:
- Offering the 2019 Certified Trainers course, bringing in new leaders to help spread Play for Peace across the globe.
- Supporting a Play for Peace project in Kashmir—an area where the government has just been shut-down—that reached more than 115 schools and child friendly spaces.
- Supporting large Play for Peace events led in IDP camps (internally displaced people) located in Myanmar.
- Supporting the development of new Play for Peace clubs globally in Burundi, Kenya, Afghanistan, India, El Salvador, Nepal, and Vietnam, while also continuing to grow and develop our communities in more than 20 countries, such as South Sudan, Senegal, South Africa, Guatemala, and more.
- Opening new Play for Peace Clubs in the United States, including in rural Idaho and on the South Side of Chicago.
5. We worked toward growing Play for Peace's tools and presence by:
- Connecting and developing partnerships with universities, including a three-year research partnership with the University of New Hampshire. The partnership kicked off with a strategic planning retreat in Costa Rica; a new Play for Peace Club in SNDT Pune, India; and a workshop with the Texas A&M Conflict Resolution Department.
- Developing a robust website with clear messaging, as well as new resource pages for Play for Peace trainers, support team, board of directors and Playshop facilitators, with plans to expand to mentors next year.
- Launching our first ever mobile app with tech company partner, Kikori.
- Launching a philanthropic team building workshop called Playshop Connect to spread awareness and raise funds for Play for Peace.
- Launching our new identity-positive campaign "We Are #PlayforPeace", which highlights the strengths of our community members, youth leaders, and child participants, breaking down stereotypes and lifting up spirits.
Thank you for being a part of our success in 2019, and for supporting Play for Peace!