Nike Announces New Partnership with PeacePlayers International

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PeacePlayers International is proud to join with Nike to build stronger communities harnessing the unifying power of sport.  Our partnership will help mobilize young people across the United States who will show that if you can play together, you can live together.

Programs will involve a multitude of stakeholders, including community leaders, young people, coaches, athletes, professional teams, law enforcement and government. PeacePlayers is excited to be part of Nike’s commitment promoting equality and supporting a shared future for everyone.

To learn more about the partnership, check out http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/go/equality

PeacePlayers Teams Up with Detroit PAL

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This weekend the team from PPI-SPIN went out to Detroit, MI to launch a strategic partnership with the Detroit Police Athletic League (PAL). Detroit PAL is the premier after school sports program in Detroit, and works with over 14,000 youth each year across a variety of sports. The partnership, sponsored in part by the Detroit Pistons, is part of PAL’s Team Up program whose goal is to improve the quality of relationships between polices officers, youth and the community by matching Detroit Police officers as assistant coaches on youth sports teams.  As a part of the trip, PPI delivered a comprehensive sport for development training to eight police officers and eight PAL coaches at Boysville gymnasium, a historic gym PAL has used to serve the West Detroit area for years. PPI trainers facilitated activities related to positive youth coaching, conflict resolution, and relationship building while introducing participants to the curriculum that they will be delivering with their teams over the next seven weeks.

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“The training was very engaging and beneficial to the police officer’s and Detroit PAL coaches. It provided us with new ideas and skills in which we can utilize with the over 14,000 youth that we serve yearly. Also, the training provided us with additional knowledge in which to guide our youth, not direct them, in solving their problems and expand their exploration of ideas and challenge their thinking and allow us to act as a collaborator in the problem-solving process.”

  • Officer Chenetta Pasley, a sixteen-year veteran of the Detroit police and youth development officer for Detroit PAL

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Detroit is one of several domestic cities that PPI will have a growing presence in throughout the coming months. The opportunity came in large part due to Vice Chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment and PPI Board Member Arn Tellem. Tellem has been a strong advocate for PPI to establish partnerships and support local stakeholders in the Detroit area over the last year.

 

PeacePlayers Presented with Award from Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

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PPI receives the Reflections of Hope Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel on November 14, 2016. (Via abc Tulsa.)

PeacePlayers International (PPI) was honored for its international work uniting young people in divided communities through basketball with the “Reflections of Hope Award” from the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. PPI was named the award recipient in August of this year.

Co-founder and Executive Director, Brendan Tuohey accepted the award on behalf of PPI saying, “We at PPI are deeply honored to receive the Reflections of Hope Award and to be included among past winners who have overcome barriers to build a more peaceful and just world. The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum represents the very best of what individual citizens working together towards a shared future can achieve.”

Along with Tuohey, the Oklahoma Thunder general manager, Sam Presti, PPI-ME participants Liraz Ben Yosef and Malak Ayub and coach Rebecca Ross were also in attendance at the award luncheon.

The Reflections of Hope Award is granted annually to those who embody the core beliefs of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation. Past recipients include journalist Anthony Shadid (2012), and Presidents George W. Bush and family (2011), and William J. Clinton (2010).

More information about PeacePlayers and the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum’s selection can be found here.

Starting the year off right in Jerusalem!

Today’s blog from PPI-ME is written by coach and field coordinator, Jess Reiser.

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Kids in the Arab community of Ein Rafah get excited at practice

The school year in Jerusalem started about six weeks ago, and we are deep in the swing of things at Peace Players International – Middle East. Because of the Jewish holiday season, our joint activities are set to start at the end of October. We have been using this time to get the year off to a good start with high-impact mono-communal programming for Palestinians and Israelis in their own communities, helping them learn basketball fundamentals and preparing them for joint activities with their twinned team from the “other side.” It’s been a busy and fun beginning with so many different teams and I love being able to work with different kids and coaches every day. It’s been a really great learning experience so far.

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Kids from Keshet school in Jewish west Jerusalem work on some ball-handling drills

Because many of the kids are new to basketball and Peace Players, each practice we have been emphasizing basketball fundamentals while making sure the kids are having fun. We are focusing on listening skills with fun games and exercises. My favorite game has been “red light, green light,” which I really loved growing up. In “red light, green light,” a person in the middle calls out “red,” “yellow,” or “green.” Each color has a command: stop, go slow, or run, respectively, and whoever gets to the other side of the court first, wins. With this game, they learn that they have to listen closely in order to win. The kids love it, and I also enjoy yelling out the colors.

Focusing on basics and fundamentals, we’ve started out with mostly dribbling and passing drills to get the kids more comfortable with a basketball in their hands. It’s amazing how much improvement you can see in just six weeks and how excited the kids are to learn. At this point, they are requesting to do dribbling and passing drills!

We end many practices with a fun shooting game. The kids always love to shoot around, especially when it involves some sort of competition. My favorite is when we split the kids up into teams and each time someone scores a basket, they run and grab a cone from the center of the court until all the cones are gone. Whoever has the most cones, wins. They end up cheering for each other and it’s always a good time.

This first month and a half definitely has great momentum going for this year! I love waking up every day and being excited about all the practices that are coming up in the day. The kids are great and learning every day. I’m so excited to get our twinnings going and to see what these kids can really do when Palestinians and Israelis come together as a team!

The Superhero in All of Us: Former PPI Intern Co-Founds Non-Profit

Today’s blog highlights Ellie Lewis, a recent PPI-DC intern and sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill. Ellie recently co-founded The Superhero Project, a non-profit designed to teach patients that their greatest superpowers are creativity, courage and kindness.

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Ellie Lewis and Jack Davis started a non-profit that brings together patients at the UNC Children’s hospital. (Photo via The Daily Tarheel)

Former PPI-DC summer intern Ellie Lewis is making superheroes come to life for patients at the UNC Children’s Hospital. Along with her partner and fellow sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill, Jack Davis, the two launched a non-profit. The organization partners with the Children’s Hospital and local comic book artists and UNC students to draw personalized superheroes for every patient they interact with.

“The Superhero Project is about bringing to life the un-seeable,” Lewis said. “It’s about giving kids a chance to be celebrated for the strengths inside of them. By creating superheroes, we are showing patients, families, and students that there are superpowers in us all.”

The idea for The Superhero Project was born when a pediatric patient came up to Davis studying in the lobby of the UNC Hospital and wrote ‘good luck on your test tomorrow’ on his notebook. The simple act resonated with him, and he set out to develop a project that connects patients while building community.

From there, Davis and Lewis connected on the idea in Washington, D.C. where they were working at different internships. Lewis was drawn in by the idea of using superheroes as a way of connecting with the kids. “We really want to see eye-to-eye with the patients and our way to do that is using a love of superheroes. It’s so easy to geek out and love superheroes because they save the world. But, they are a basic symbol of power and strength that anyone from five-years old to 50 can recognize.”

Currently, The Superhero Project is in developmental stages before it launches at the UNC Children’s Hospital. In preparation, Lewis is gaining experience with her fellow club members, learning about each other’s strengths as well as gaining training on interacting with kids and families, and providing emotional support and encouragement. In addition, she and Davis partnered with Ben Bolling, a UNC postdoctoral fellow and panel director at NC Comicon to cultivate connections with local comic book artists.

Eventually, Lewis would like for The Superhero Project to celebrate the kids in a unique way by publishing a comic book that incorporates all the superheroes together. “We want to illustrate that their fight every day is truly super.”

Say Hello to Coach Jess!

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Meet Jess, the newest member to join PPI-ME!

Hi! My name is Jessica Reiser, and I recently joined the PPI – Middle East Team. I am super excited to be working closely with many teams in Jerusalem as a coach and field coordinator.

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. Sports was always a big part of life. My brother, sisters, and I grew up going to Cincinnati baseball, football, and basketball games. Basketball, in particular, has always held significance in my life. I’ve been playing ever since I can remember, whether it was shooting hoops in our backyard, trying out for the school team, or playing pickup games in the park. I was the kid at summer camp you could find on the courts during every second of free time.

After high school, I spent nine months in Israel studying and volunteering. By the end of the year, I knew this was the place for me. After that year, I went back to Ohio to study before making plans to return to Israel, majoring in International Relations with a concentration in the Middle East at Ohio State University.

I moved to Israel in August 2011 with a group of 25 other new immigrants. We lived on Kibbutz Saad in the south of Israel and were soon drafted to the Israeli army, where I served in a Public Relations unit in the Air Force for two years.

After the army, I got a job in customer support at a high-tech company in Tel Aviv. Within a few months of adjusting back into civilian life, I realized something was missing. I hadn’t had much time to play basketball while I was in the army, and I wanted to get back into the swing of things. I saw a post on Facebook for a women’s league called “Basketball with Love,” and I emailed them immediately. I started practice that week, and I have to say it has been one of the best decisions of my life.

By the beginning of 2016, I had been working in high-tech for two years. It was time

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Jess (back row, right) poses with her teammates

for a change. My coach suggested that I look into the Wingate Institute’s Basketball Coaching Course. The course was fascinating and made me think how important the game was to me when I was growing up and how much I wanted to help show the next generation how beautiful the game of basketball can be. If I could help kids develop skills on and off the court, then I would be happy.

I always wanted to move to nonprofit work and make a real difference in people’s lives. For me, it has been really challenging to live in Israel during times of war and feel scared and helpless. I believe that most people just want to live their lives in peace. I think education is the key ingredient to move forward in the peace process. I especially like the idea of using sports education as a tool for social change.

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Jess (left) and new PPI Fellow James lead a practice together at Keshet School in Jerusalem

I heard about PeacePlayers International through being in the basketball world in Israel and thought it was a perfect match for me. I’ve always wanted to be part of the peace building process. Building peace from the ground up, from personal relationships like we do in PPI, in my opinion, is the best way to change the situation for the better, and I’m proud that I can now say I’m a part of it.

PPI-DC Program Coordinator Shares Experiences from Turkey Trip

Today’s blog is written by PPI-DC program coordinator Rochelle Coleman. Rochelle reflects on the recent JUMP basketball tournament in Turkey.

 

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PPI leaders and Basketball Embassy coaches

In today’s society our differences are often highlighted: religion, nationality, race, gender, class, language; the list goes on and on. What makes PeacePlayers great is that despite these perceived differences we are all the same, and we try to see people as people. PeacePlayers was recently presented the opportunity to go to Turkey to work a basketball camp with community relations training, work with campers and coaches from all over Turkey as well as campers and coaches from Syria. Then, to really ratchet up the diversity meter, the PPI coaches were from three different sites: the DC office in the United States (myself), Debbie from Northern Ireland and Sifiso from South Africa. Add in the two Texans (USA) Chris and Joey from the Basketball Embassy and you have a very interesting bunch.

If this were a reality tv show, the commentator would scream, “How will they get along?  How is this possible?!”  And with that, the 100 members who made up the campers and coaches would look at the camera and say, “It’s simple, we are all the same.”

Even with three different languages filling the air (Arabic, English, & Turkish) communication flowed, and campers helped each other and learned each other’s language.  People took the time to understand each other and sometimes there was some tension, but since we cared about understanding, everything worked out. Basketball is a universal language but even more than that a smile, a high five, a thumbs up always translates.  Sitting down with someone new for a meal or just hanging out a talking with one another (even if it looks like a game of charades because of the language difference) alway goes a long way and is a wonderful time.

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The campers and coaches

Often our differences are emphasized but at the end of the day everyone wants a safe space where they are free to laugh, dance, communicate, learn, grow and just be themselves.  It’s funny when that space is provided just like it was at the JUMP basketball camp in Turkey how people forget their differences and joy permeates. Special thanks to the US Embassy for supporting the great work of the Turkish Basketball Federation (TBF) and to TBF for allowing PeacePlayers to participate in such an incredible week of camp!

 

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All of the campers!