On top of the 24 Palestinian and Israeli teen members of the Leadership Development Program (LDP), PPI – ME has started a preparatory program for exceptional girls ages 12-15 to give them early leadership opportunities ahead of full-fledged LDP membership at age 16. The “LDP, Jr.” girls come from Jerusalem and Holon, and the new initiative came to be after we noticed that lots of our younger girls were eagerly showing up to volunteer as assistant coaches for younger PeacePlayers, a task usually given to their older LDP peers. The 17 girls of the LDP, Jr., who in addition play on other PPI teams, will have leadership workshops every other month throughout the year and a year-end social action project, which the girls will choose, plan and lead themselves. In addition, they will also join the older LDP kids at the annual retreat that will take place next month.
The group launched officially about a month ago, with a team-building day in the park. Program Manager Galit Sahar led the girls in a string of games to build trust, cooperation and creativity. First, the girls sat in a circle, and each said her name, its meaning, and why her parents chose to give her that name. Afterwards the girls were split into mixed pairs of one Palestinian and one Israeli girl, and each had to fall backwards and trust that the other would catch her. Needless to say, the girls had good reason to trust one another and no one fell.
In another game, the girls had to stand together on a small blanket and, working together, flip the blanket over without taking their feet off the blanket. This required great resolve, creativity and teamwork, and was not easy to complete, especially since they could not stop giggling. The girls tried several strategies, including carrying one another to save space. Ultimately, with some quick, creative thinking from Juman from East Jerusalem, the girls were able to manage the task at hand. At the end, the girls on their own initiative built a human pyramid, steadying themselves and then shouting “LDP!”