One billion children in our world live in conflict affected areas. In volatile areas, our programs encourage all children–regardless of the ethnic, cultural or historical divides they've inherited–to come together on neutral grounds and play.
A game of Protector Dodgeball is not about hitting
the opponent–it's about protecting your team. A game of Volley Tennis is less about scoring points than it is about the communication it takes to keep the ball in the air and get it over the net. After a game is over, our Coaches get the players talking about the importance of strong leadership and communications skills. This gets them thinking about how the skills they've learned can be used to make their communities better.
"What I think the children need–to realize peace here in South Sudan–is to have play in common." – James, Right To Play Coach, South Sudan
For many children, conflict has not only torn them from their homes, but has made new neighbors of old enemies. Bringing kids together to play–whether on a football field or in a classroom–is an opportunity to foster the friendships and understanding that lasting peace is built upon.
"You don't have to be big to be a leader..."
Thirteen-year-old Mostafa is a Palestinian refugee living in Lebanon. Accustomed to a life surrounded by conflict and tension, the young man says the sight of other children running away from him made him happy – made him feel like a leader.
"I felt secure and satisfied to beat and bully others," says Mostafa. "But I knew they didn't love me."
It was 20-year-old Aras, an Iraqi refugee, who helped change the young bully. A Right To Play Coach, Aras met Mostafa at A'amel, a community-based association that runs play programs for Lebanese youth, as well as Palestinian and Iraqi refugees.
Participating in sport and play-based activities with Aras, Mostafa says he learned the importance of kindness and teamwork.
No one is more grateful for this change of heart than Mostafa's 10-year-old brother, Baqer, who is a regular Right To Play participant too.
"During the activities I gained a new friend," says Baqer. "My brother."
No longer bullied by Mostafa, now treated as his equal, Baqer says his brother's actions have taught him a lot about dealing with others.
"We don't have to be big to be leaders," says Baqer. "It is the way we speak and behave that makes a difference."