The United States is a diverse melting pot of cultures, religions, and ethnicities, since for much of the country's history it has drawn people from across the globe to what is known as the "land of opportunity." Unfortunately, much internal conflict also exists. Discrimination against people based on gender, religion, race, and sexual orientation can be felt in areas throughout the country, and in far too many cases violence is the result. And in light of today's political landscape, the country has become even more divided by its differences. While our current programming is in Los Angeles, over the years Play for Peace has worked extensively in Chicago, Denver, Baltimore and various other towns and cities.
The Heart of Los Angeles Club was started by 9th and 10th graders in Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), an organization that gives underserved kids an equal chance to succeed through a comprehensive array of after school academic, arts, athletics and wellness programs. The group works in central L.A., an area which has a particularly high concentration of new immigrants and first generation Americans struggling to make their way, which can sometimes make for a volatile environment, vulnerable to poverty and crime.
Play for Peace is the centerpiece of the leadership programming at HOLA. High school age youth facilitators lead monthly cooperative play sessions with younger students, and over 300 elementary and middle school age participants benefit from these activities.
"There has been a big impact on both the students who are receiving and those who are giving the Practice Peace sessions. Both students have increased their cooperative skills and also improved harmony in the group."
Senior Program Director,
Heart of Los Angeles Club
Heart of Los Angeles Club (HOLA)
Los Angeles, California
Last year, Play for Peace worked with Texas A&M's Conflict and Development Foundation to bring laughter and joy to children in Guatemala. It was a truly inspiring experience for both the children and those leading the session.
Watch as the youth of Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) tell us how xenophobia and racism impacts them and how they're standing up to end it.
The HOLA Play for Peace club took World Interfaith Harmony Week as an opportunity to build upon this theme and develop a greater understanding and appreciation of their differences.