From Theory to Practice: Putting Play for Peace Methods to Work

“The incorporation of Play for Peace methods and narrative ideas allows me to create more meaningful conversations. I am able to reach out beyond the problem and find skills in each person.” —Archana Magar, Play for Peace certified trainer

For Play for Peace, cooperative play is used as a catalyst for creating long-lasting positive change at the personal and interpersonal level. It promotes positive relationships among people who live in communities affected by conflict and helps them start a dialogue based on mutual respect. The process begins by creating a safe environment, where people of all ages and backgrounds can experience the joy of play. Since all activities are fun, caring, inclusive and cooperative, group members can get to know each other in a non-threatening environment. Laughing together releases tension, and the games allow participants to build trust in one another. Mutual trust is the condition for cooperating, finding solutions for conflicts, and creating peaceful communities.

Play for Peace clubs around the world use cooperative play to learn about the unique challenges their communities face. Play for Peace’s methodology is the basis for a productive and inclusive dialogue, so it can be incorporated into other concepts and/or programs. Furthermore, using Play for Peace methods not only increases our clubs’ success rate of reaching their objectives, but it also strengthens the sustainability of the Play for Peace model itself.

An example of Play for Peace methods being incorporated into another concept is in the work of Archana Magar, a certified trainer and regional coordinator in India. She currently conducts weekly narrative therapy sessions with terminal stage three cancer patients through a local organization in Mumbai, as well as monthly sessions for special need children and their parents. Narrative therapy concentrates on separating people from their problems while focusing on their many skills, beliefs, values, and abilities. This allows them to reduce the impact of their problems on their lives. The therapy consists of asking questions and helping people to recognize the solution from within. This self-realization makes the solution more effective and something people are more apt to follow. Archana is incorporating narrative ideas into her Play for Peace work and will share her experiences with the Play for Peace community, as well as experts working in therapeutic fields.

Play for Peace’s methodology and narrative therapy share many of the same values, and many Play for Peace activities bring out narrative ideas. This includes the belief that people are experts in their own lives. Conversely, narrative ideas can influence the way a Play for Peace community cooperates. With narrative therapy, the problem is seen as different from the person, so questions can be asked in a way that uncovers the story behind the problem, as well as the skills that will allow the person to solve his or her challenges. Practicing and incorporating narrative ideas in Play for Peace is an initiative and exploration with the ideas such as people being experts of their life. Through facilitating cooperative games, people become leaders and make own decisions. They taking risks and start exploring their own skills.

Archana successfully began incorporating Play for Peace into her narrative therapy sessions in December 2018, and it will be a steady component of future sessions. In her work with palliative care patients with cancer, she uses Play for Peace games to create the feeling of joy and laughter. This creates a safe space for participants to share stories they find within themselves. By using narrative ideas, those stories are analyzed in order to discern the skills they already had had or developed when making decisions in that story.

In a recent session one participant shared: “I would not have understood my own skills of looking at life so beautifully if I hadn’t been part of this session.”