Basketball. Learning. Laughter. Joy.
The energy was palpable in the Midwest this August as our five programs from across the U.S. gathered together for the first time ever to host their regional PeacePlayers U.S. Friendship Games. Youth from coast-to-coast descended on a week-long games co-hosted by PeacePlayers Chicago and Detroit from August 5-9.
Coming together under the umbrella theme of “finding your voice” our youth leaders and coaches from Baltimore, Brooklyn, Chicago, Detroit and L.A demonstrated the power of bridging divides through the common language of basketball.
These first-ever games for our PeacePlayers U.S. leaders provided incredible opportunities to build relationships and come to learn that regardless of where you are from, that we are all more alike than we are different.
The week kicked off in Chicago, with both on-court basketball training and off-court leadership workshops. Then a road trip from Chicago to Detroit – including a university visit for our youth to checkout the University of Michigan – to spend the remainder of the week together in Detroit.
By the time PeacePlayers U.S. regional friendship games ended, the group had quickly become like family and understood they were all part of a true movement of leaders working to foster more peaceful communities that will benefit all of us.
Here is what some of the PeacePlayers U.S. youth had to say about their experience at the games:
“This summer with PeacePlayers was enjoyable for not only me, but for everyone else that attended our summer camp in Brooklyn AND the Friendship Games in Chicago and Detroit!! It was really cool meeting other fellow PeacePlayers from Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, and LA and even international PeacePlayers coaches from Cyprus, South Africa, Israel, and Northern Ireland. Meeting new people and fellow PeacePlayers made me feel better and more confident in speaking to others and having a chance to learn new things both outside and inside of basketball. In one of the workshops, we were given an issue in our community and we had to work with our teammates to come up with solutions. My team worked on homelessness and joblessness, a topic which is a big issue in Brownsville in Brooklyn, where we are from. It was cool to talk through that further as a group. I’m so glad I got to attend the first-ever Friendship Games and hope I can attend more of these. It was a great feeling being on my team AKA ‘the Humble Beast’. It was all a wonderful experience.” – Javonn, PeacePlayers Brooklyn
“PeacePlayers Friendship Games was dope. We got a chance to meet others from different cities who are also a part of PeacePlayers. I wasn’t sure it was going to be fun at first because everyone stayed to themselves and didn’t know each other at all. By the end of the week, when we all got to Detroit we were like family. CJ from PeacePlayers Brooklyn and I really bonded, and he felt like my brother from another mother. Malaki from PeacePlayers LA was also good peoples, always laid back but a good person to talk to. They are now my brothers for life. This trip even brought me and my PeacePlayers Baltimore family closer together. I can’t wait until we do it again.” – Chris, PeacePlayers Baltimore