The month of April is an exceptionally busy time for the sports community. This was exceptionally true for PeacePlayers programming here in Cyprus! This blog post will highlight some of the awesome opportunities our Leadership Development Program (LDP) participants took part in over the month of April and into May. This was a time for them to execute some of the skill they have been learning throughout the year, as well as participate in some pretty unique opportunities that few youth on the island get to take part in.
The front gate of the Ledra Palace Hotel in the UN administered buffer zone has received a fresh new look. The decorative mural, stretching 50 meters in length, is a collaborative project between PeacePlayers Cyprus, Visual Voices and YEU Cyprus, with support from the British High Commission Nicosia. Presenting symbols of unity and peace, it further defines the space as a connection point between communities. The ideas of this mural were inspired by youth taking part in the PeacePlayers LDP program!
The mural is made up of three principal components, all of which symbolize positive steps towards a lasting peace on the island of Cyprus. The stencil designs include: a donkey, olive leaf, scale and seedling. The symbols in red, blue and yellow are inspired by ancient Cypriot patterns found on pottery. The symbols in black come from the Caribbean, where one of the participating artists is from. Together they symbolize the harmony that can be found in diversity. The final element is a circle with two hands spiraling around the entrance gate, symbolizing the contact between communities and the opportunity to find peace.
LEARNING TO FACILITATE (CLASSROOM SESSION)
During the past LDP classroom meeting, our Leaders had the opportunity to learn how to become better facilitators and communicators when mentoring. The session was focused on being able to keep others involved in an authentic way that ultimately increases the learning environment for everyone and increases engagement in the activities. They learned the importance of verbal vs nonverbal communication; explored different types of students and how to best communicate with them; and defined active listening.
During the holidays, most youth are out of school and taking the time explore other hobbies, take a break from school and hangout with friends. However, in late May, a group of our LDP participants helped facilitate a workshop for a group of teen participants from We Art One (a series of workshops a part of the LAB 31 project), which is funded by the European Union. LAB 31 aims to harness the relationship between national and foreign youngsters, through providing a platform for young people to express themselves by engaging in different cultural and artistic activities. The project desires to develop the participation of foreign adolescents, unaccompanied foreign minors included, in the cultural and social life of the host community, through specific play initiatives with the local population.
During this workshop, a group of LDP helped run several team-building games which included fun activities such as hungry hippos, an obstacle courses, basketball games and even a rope “laser” escape game. The beginning and end of the workshop felt like two different groups! At first nobody knew anybody’s name, everyone was unsure of what they were going to do or if they have any fun. At the end, nothing was the same! Fun has a very unique way of bringing people together and breaking down barriers of trust and discomfort. It was a special opportunity for both PeacePlayers and We Art One!
EXCHANGE TO ISRAEL
In mid-May, fifteen Leaders from both the LDP and JDP had the opportunity to travel to Israel to partake in an Erasmus exchange between Northern Ireland, Middle East and Norway! At the exchange, there were many amazing activities that the leaders took part in such as hiking the Masada in pitch dark for sunrise, a ropes course, rock climbing, relaxing by the Jordan river, touring the Old City of Jerusalem and last but certainly not least, participating in leadership development classroom sessions.
In mid-February, two of PeacePlayers-Cyprus members joined a group of staff and participants from each site to help plan the amazing exchange. Sophia Georgiou participated as a Coach on the exchange and helped plan the classroom session workshops. She worked to help come up with the theme “Stretch & Explore”, and here’s what she had to say about it:
“Our thinking was mostly around self-awareness and how that could really benefit someone throughout the exchange. We wanted the participants to spend time exploring who they are as individuals, exploring the people by making connections with others and exploring the cultures that are found across the exchange.”
– Sophia Georgiou, PP-CY Coach
LEADERS GON’ LEAGUE
Check out one of our LDP participants Vedat Kaya in a playoff game with his team! One of PeacePlayers Assistant Coaches, Cetin Pirlanta, is also the Assistant coach for Vedat’s team as well. Fun fact about Vedat: he also has a twin brother, Ali, who is also in the LDP! Go Magusa!
This past weekend, we hosted our first ever joint LDP and JDP retreat Leadership Camping Retreat! PP-Cy was able to take 40 participants to Tatlisu, including coaches, fellow, JDP and LDP, to partner with Step Out Cyprus for a weekend of adventure, team-building, and leadership activities. We hiked to the top of the Kyrenia Mountains, rock-climbed on a cliff facing the seaside, sea-kayaked, zip-lined, played teambuilding games, had an exciting quiz night (ice cream was involved), roasted marshmallows and overall had an amazing time. It was the first time many of our participants slept in camping tents, and they enjoyed it so much that they’re already talking about when they’re going to go again. Our leaders did such a good job that Step Out Cyprus offered them volunteer positions at the camp whenever they want as volunteers! We couldn’t have done this without the help of the British High Commission who helped fund a major portion of the cost.