Twinned Peace Sport Schools Project

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Twinned Peace Sport Schools Project

Palestinian Territory
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Our idea is to address the harsh reality of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by bringing Palestinian and Israeli children and young adults from disadvantaged communities across the border together through sport, providing a medium for communication, an avenue for encouraging social change and connecting as many Palestinians and Israelis together as possible.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians continues to have a severely negative affect on individuals and communities across the region. Children inevitably suffer to a great degree from a high level of emotional stress and tension, having little capacity to internalize and manage the impact of the conflict situation. Additionally in this region the opportunity for Palestinian and Israeli children to meet each other is incredibly rare; on both sides the media, education systems and current political circumstances are all in place to keep the two sides apart and maintain existing harmful stereotypes which dehumanise the 'other side'. This lack of contact further perpetuates negative attitudes toward the “other”, and as such, the Twinned Peace Sport Schools project is designed to allow the participants to transcend these barriers, to develop a different outlook on life and to approach the concept of peace with their counterparts.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our unique holistic, cross-border program utilities sport as a peacebuilding communication tool to bring Palestinian & Israeli children together in a safe, healthy & fun environment built on principles of equality, diversity, respect, mutual understanding and a dream of peace between the two nations. Our programs cater to a broad target audience comprised of female, male, Muslim, Jewish and Christian participants - children, parents and the wider community. This project is the only chance for the youth to meet with the ‘other side’. The Peres Center for Peace has the strongest capacity in the region in terms of its volume of activities, its scope of outreach and its logistic abilities; The “Twinned Peace Sports Schools” program continues to operate in an active war zones. In each locality, we establish a sport club; provide the children with weekly sport training, peace education activities and inter-language learning. The children meet with their twinned school for monthly joint Palestinian-Israeli activities and other special events. It is our preference to establish schools in the most difficult and challenging communities; where the needs of the youngsters are greatest and where we can have a greater impact on at-risk communities through our peace-building projects bringing Palestinians and Israelis together.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A recent external evaluation concluded that the project has an outstandingly positive effect on the Palestinian and Israeli participants, coaches and their communities. This project is the only chance for the youth to meet with the ‘other side’; The project is highly relevant to the needs of the individuals, parents and their respective communities; The program successfully breaks down stereotypes; The program effectively encourages self-confidence in the youth, promotes empathy, and greater physical skill; The program creates rare and meaningful spaces for dialogue with the other side; The program has gained immense parental and community credibility; Importantly, the children love attending the program activities. The program has touched the lives of over 12,000 Palestinian and Israeli girls and boys from some 35 disadvantaged Palestinian, Arab and Israeli communities. Since our projects began in 2002 with a small project catering to just 60 children aged 10-12, we have expanded our reach and we now implement different projects catering to 1,500 children annually between the ages 4 – 17. We are now developing further project ideas for young adults (post 18 years old), parents and children and adults with disabilities. We have organized over 600 joint Palestinian-Israeli activities. Our message of peacebuilding has been disseminated to 50,000 indirect beneficiaries. We have trained over 100 Palestinian and Israeli coaches. Since 2007 the number of girls in our programs has increased annually by approximately 20%.
About You
Organization:
The Peres Center for Peace
Section 1: About You
First Name

Josie

Last Name

Stein

Website
Organization
Country
Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

The Peres Center for Peace

Organization Phone

0097235680637

Organization Address

Peres Peace House, 132 Kedem Street, Tel Aviv-Yafo, 68066

Organization Country

, T

Your idea
Country your work focuses on
Innovation
Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Actions

Instead of meeting in a formal educational framework, the youth bond through the joint-Palestinian-Israeli sporting and social activities which take place on a regular basis. Israeli and Palestinian children always play in mixed teams (instead of Israelis versus Palestinians).

(1) Sport and Fitness Training - Palestinian and Israeli children meet separately in their own communities twice a week for a 90 minute training session with local coaches;

(2) Peace Education Instruction is implemented directly into the sport training and fitness sessions, innovatively utilizing the ball in the context of teamwork and cooperation games. The course focuses on issues such as conflict resolution, improving listening skills, inclusion and exclusion, similarities and differences, and more.

(3) Inter-Language Learning - promoting instruction of Arabic for the Israeli communities and Hebrew for the Palestinian communities.

(4) Joint Palestinian-Israeli Social and Sporting activities –including Peace Education activities, teamwork and cooperation games and sport.

Results

The primary long-term objectives of this programme are to foster values that favour peace and coexistence between young Palestinians and Israelis by improving attitudes toward the "other", and diffusing stereotypes. The secondary objectives are to provide a forum for the improvement of physical coordination and fitness.

Our results as evidenced in recent evaluations are:

(1) The establishment and strengthening of Palestinian-Israeli friendships;
(2) Establishment and strengthening of relationships between Palestinian and Israeli coaches;
(3) Reduction of preconceived stereotypes;
(4) Improved willingness for prolonged contact and improvement in attitudes towards the other group;
(5) Acceptance of the 'other side;
(6) Improved understanding of the other side's cultural background;
(7) Improvement in athletic skills; Further understanding of the values of teamwork;
(8) Improvement in inter-community trust;
(9) Small improvement in the ability of each side to speak the others' language.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Graduates staying in program by joining the new Apprentice Coaches Scheme (we encourage new entrants to continue participating in the program for a number of years in order to successfully foster a profound appreciation of peace and achieve other aims related to fitness improvement and self-development);

Expanding program to new communities across Israel and the Palestinian Authority (thereby reaching more children with out message);

More girls in the program leading to a ratio of 50:50 eventually;

More women coaches.

Even more parental involvement.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

There are numerous challenges (beyond our control) to overcome in order to implement the Twinned Peace Sport Schools program successfully. These challenges are the result of the ongoing instability in the region. The Peres Center serves as a bridge between Palestinian and Israeli communities. Ongoing instability due to events that are most often impossible to predict have harsh implications for the projects that we run. e.g. Gaza War (Jan 2009).

(1) Due to legal restrictions and safety considerations all our joint activities take place in Israel; yet all Palestinians residing in the West Bank require permits in order to leave the territory and enter Israel. Permits are granted at the discretion of the IDF.
(2) Periodic closures on movement in and out of the West Bank because of Jewish religious or Israeli national festivals or as a result of security incidents or terrorist attacks.
(3) Periodic escalation of violence has the potential to lead to enforced program cancellation due to threat to communities.
(4) Palestinian participants often face pressure from political factions who are against any Palestinians participating in coexistence projects with any Israelis.

Also this project (like all Peres Center and Al Quds projects) is completely dependent on external donors and works with disadvantaged communities without the necessary economic resources to self-fund the project. It is a significant challenge to ensure that the schools can operate year after year. Such continuity enables the children to take part in the project for up to six years, greatly enhancing the benefits of the program for both the individual participants and for the ties between Palestinian and Israeli communities.

How many people will your project serve annually?

1001‐10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$100 ‐ 1000

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

Sustainability
What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

In what country?
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

If yes, provide organization name.

The Peres Center for Peace (Israel) (along with it's Palestinian partner the Al Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue)

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?

Yes

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?

No

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

The partnership of the Peres Center and the Al Quds Association is an exemplary example of a successful Palestinian-Israeli partnership and endeavours to act as a model for other Non-Governmental Organizations.

Although the reality on the ground is full of tension and the ever present threat of violence both organisations are strongly driven by their commitment to advancing peacebuilding and achieving coexistence objectives between Palestinian and Israeli youngsters through sport programs which emphasize mutual respect, friendship, non-violence, personal integrity, and fun.

The contribution of the Al Quds Association must be particularly recognized considering the pressure they receive from political factions who are against any Palestinians participating in coexistence projects with any Israelis.

As the more developed partner, the Peres Center is committed to undertaking tasks which enhance the Al Quds Association's capacity on the technical and administrative side of program management including professional and program development and international fund-raising.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

For as much as they have achieved, the Twinned Peace Sport Schools could do so much more. The great, ongoing demand for our programmes in both Israeli and Palestinian communities speaks volumes about the quality of these programmes and the contribution they make.

The program is completely dependent on external donors and works with disadvantaged communities without the necessary economic resources to self-fund the project.

It is a significant challenge to ensure that the schools can operate year after year. Such continuity enables the children to take part in the project for up to six years, greatly enhancing the benefits of the programme for both the individual participants and for the ties between Palestinian and Israeli communities.

In order to continue to implement and expand the program we need (1) more long-term strategic program investors, (2) increased international medial coverage and (3) continued local support in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

During a coaches training course for Palestinian and Israeli coaches in Cyprus the participant coaches came up with an idea to bring kids together through football.

The idea was that if we gave Palestinian and Israeli kids an opportunity to bond over their shared love of football and meet their counterpart from 'the other side', the kids would be more open to ideas of peace, mutual understanding and coexistence rather than hatred.

The program began with two communities – Sderot in Israel and Isawiya in East Jerusalem and quickly expanded to include around 35 communities.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Dr. Ron Pundak serves as the Director General of the Peres Center for Peace, a position he has held since mid-2001. He played a decisive role in creating the secret track of the unofficial Oslo negotiations at the beginning of 1993, and subsequently served as a member of the official Israeli negotiating team in the later stage of the Oslo Process. Since then, Dr. Pundak has been involved in a number of "Track 2" initiatives regarding an Israeli-Palestinian final status agreement, dealing with issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, borders, and economic aspects of the conflict.

Bassam Aramin, Director of The Al Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue
After spending seven years in Israeli jails between 1985-1992, Bassam has become a notable advocate for peace and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. He is a Member of the Palestinian Israeli Bereaved Family Forum, is Chairman of Al Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue and Co-Founder of Combatants For Peace Organization (of Israelis and Palestinians) in 2005.
Bassam has given more than 70 lectures in Israel since 2006 in schools, universities and meeting houses. In 2007, he tragically lost his beloved ten year old daughter Abir in a tragic incident involving the IDF and has courageously maintained his search for peace and reconciliation. Bassam is the recipient of many peace awards including an Award on November 7, 2007 in New York, the Dieschwelle Foundation Award in Germany, the Bremen Peace Award in November 2007.

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