This week we are featuring a young PeacePlayer, Alexa. Through our Mitzvah Program, this 6th grader planned a charity basketball tournament for her Bat Mitzvah, which she celebrated on May 30th. To learn more about PPI’s Mitzvah Program, CLICK HERE.
Hi, my name is Alexa. I live in Washington, D.C. and go to Maret School. While preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I didn’t know what my service project would be, so I did what any person would do — I turned to Google for help.
PeacePlayers International was the first project I learned about that I really felt a connection to. I love playing basketball and I loved the idea of kids creating change. I also felt connected to Israel and Ireland (some of the places where PPI works) because I have ancestors from those countries.
I was also happy to see that girls participate in PPI programs, and women are PPI coaches, because creating more opportunities for girls in sports is so important to me.
I looked at the toolkits PeacePlayers provides for kids who want to do a project and I even got to call Adam, PPI’s Deputy Director of Development and Communications, for advice, which was very helpful.
I jumped into the many things that needed to be done. At first I was very overwhelmed, but I was able to break the project down into the key steps: making a flyer, reserving the gym, getting the word out, getting sponsors and referees, lining up the equipment, and registering players.
Through the whole process, my friends and family were there to support me and some kids even did some of their own community service by helping me prepare. It was great to see people getting into helping out and contributing to the tournament.
I learned a lot about myself while planning the tournament and pushed myself to overcome some of my fears. To sign kids up from outside of school, I had to go to basketball games and go around my synagogue to promote it to complete strangers. At first it was stressful, but I got more confident and better at it the more I did it.
Finally after the preparation was done, the tournament day came. I had a lot of initial concerns that people would sign up but not come, or that people would forget, but when I got there and kids were already warming up I felt so relieved. Some of my basketball coaches even came to help ref. I was excited to show them and everyone else that my love for basketball was more than just about playing the game.
The tournament flashed by and I couldn’t stop smiling because everyone was there to support PeacePlayers and me, and they could see how proud I was to be doing my Mitzvah project for a cause that I feel so strongly about. When the day was over and I met my fundraising goal, I couldn’t have been more relieved for how smoothly it all went. After that, I felt I really deserved to be a Bat Mitzvah.
Thinking back on it now, the experience taught me skills that I continue to use in other parts of my life. I definitely feel more confident in my abilities to plan and arrange my own things.
I will never forget how amazing it felt that because of my tournament, kids around the world were learning to resolve conflict. Now, whenever I play basketball I feel a connection to the PeacePlayers around the world because I know that basketball can bring kids together and create lasting change.