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September 20, 2012
There are lots of international ‘days’ held every year. Some very worthwhile, some less so (did you know there's an international Hat Day?).
But one very important day is International Day of Peace, championed by the Peace One Day organisation. And we at Laureus are very proud to be supporting this special day being held tomorrow, September 21.
Peace One Day was founded in 1999 and thanks in part to them, September 21 is now recognised by the United Nations as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.
This peaceful message is at the core of so much of the work Laureus does across the world throughout the year.
One of the excellent sports projects we work with is PeacePlayers International (PPI), a project we support in countries as far ranging as Northern Ireland, South Africa, Cyprus and Israel/Palestine.
But as far away from each other as these places are, and as culturally different as you may think of them, they also have something in common: they all share a tragic history of conflict.
PeacePlayers work with Laureus in countries such as these to work toward a future no longer blighted by the scars of violence and war, but of peace and co-existence between different communities.
And this is helping to be achieved through the power of sport.
Take the project’s work in the Middle East, for example. Here, working with both Israeli and Palestinian communities, young basketball lovers from both backgrounds are brought together on the court.
This is often the first time youngsters from each community would come into contact with those from the other background. And before taking part at the project, they would often think of themselves in terms of being Israeli or Palestinian. It was a clear cut divide, and with such a history of conflict between these two peoples, some children even found themselves fearing the other youngsters they considered to be ‘different’.
What we have learnt from our work with PPI here is that by playing together, these youngsters begin to break down the barriers and fears that existed before and begin to think only as team-mates.
The game may only last a short while, but it is this experience of having preconceptions challenged that can last a lifetime.