We cannot believe that we have already finished half of our programming this term at PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland. PPI-NI has received a lot of positive feedback from all of our running programs, including our Primary School Twinnings and our BIL program. Our participants and staff have enjoyed meeting new people from different schools while learning more about basketball and community relations.
A lot has happened since the start of programming this year. We have brought together 26 Catholic and Protestant schools from the Belfast and Ballymena areas and they have learned about many different topics that include similarities and differences, diversity, community, and identity. Discussing these topics in integrated groups has allowed young people to discover more about one another and think critically about important individual characteristics. Alongside these community relations activities, the game of basketball creates an equal playing field where children can learn and develop skills together in a safe environment. It has been amazing to see the positive influences on cross-community relationships that PeacePlayers has been able to create.
New PPI-NI coach Sarah has been helping our BIL program in North Belfast and was reflecting on her experience so far. “As a coach in North Belfast, I love seeing the kids learn from each other and sometimes I even learn from them. It is really important to engage young people in community relations and peacebuilding, and PPI-NI, through BIL, provides the perfect setting to do this.” Sarah is excited to continue work in North Belfast and provide opportunities for young people in Belfast to build new friendships and have some fun.
Our participants have been enjoying their time with PeacePlayers as well. Emily, a Junior BIL participant in South Belfast, says “I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and having lots of fun with them!” We also have some participants looking ahead to the second half of the term. Maud, a Senior BIL participant also from South Belfast, says she is looking forward to Jingle Ball, which will bring all four BIL program areas together to play basketball at the end of the term.
After a week off from Twinnings and BIL due to Halloween (with the exception of North BIL), the staff, coaches and volunteers at PPI-NI will continue to provide children and young people in Northern Ireland with an effective cross-community program using the game of basketball. We still have plenty of sessions left that will lead up to our annual Jingle Ball tournament on the 5th of December. To our coaches, volunteers, and participants, have a Happy Halloween and we will see you next week!