PeacePlayers International

The mission of PeacePlayers International is to unite, educate, and inspire young people to be a part of a more peaceful world through basketball. The organization’s guiding principle is that young children who play together can learn to live together. Brendan and Sean Tuohey, two basketball-playing brothers from Washington, D.C, founded PPI in 2001.

Shortly after graduating college, Brendan and Sean both spent time coaching youth basketball in Northern Ireland, only a short while after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement formally ended the period of intense sectarian violence known as “The Troubles.” While the area was still sharply divided along religious lines, the Tuohey brothers observed an interesting trend amongst the local youths. They saw that young people from both sides of the conflict still came together regularly to play basketball. The brothers soon realized the potential of the idea that basketball could provide a potent catalyst for peace in other areas of conflict across the globe.

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Today, PeacePlayers International works with boys and girls from ages 8 to 24 in South Africa, the Middle East, Cyprus, and Northern Ireland. In each of these areas, basketball has proven to be a particularly effective tool for peace. The effectiveness of basketball as a peacebuilding device stems from the fact that it does not carry the cultural or political overtones that come with many other sports. It is also an intimate team sport that requires collaboration on and off the court. In addition, PPI has partnered with the Arbinger Institute and the Laureus Sports for Good Foundation to develop a groundbreaking curriculum that uses sport to teach peace. PPI uses this curriculum to teach basketball and life skills, tailoring their curriculum to the needs of their communities.

The path of PPI’s participants largely demonstrates the success of the organization. Many children who started participating in the program at 8 years old are now coaching in their own communities. In South Africa, PPI’s oldest sites, over 80% of the coaches are former participants. “PPI’s methodology is based on the idea that the tools for teaching peace are not reserved for political elites,” says Adam Hirsch, Development and Communications Associate for PPI. “Our coaches and mentors work year round to unite, educate and inspire young people. And they live what they teach. These lessons don’t end when you step off the court.”

PeacePlayers has won multiple awards, including the 2011 NGO for Peace of the Year from Peace and Sport, the 2008 Laureus Sport for Good Award, and the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2007 ESPY Awards. For More Information visit: http://peaceplayersintl.org/

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About Teagan Fleiner-Etheridge

Teagan Fleiner-Etheridge is from the small town of Leverett, MA, and is a rising senior at St. Lawrence University where she is an enthusiastic honors Anthropology student and Asian Studies minor. As a tri-varsity athlete and figure skater throughout high school, as well as a born and raised Boston sports fan, Teagan developed a deep love of sports. During her travels, she has experienced that nothing can break a language barrier like tossing a ball or cheering for the same team. She has had the great fortune to have now traveled to six continents, including a semester abroad in North India, where she completed an independent field research project. Teagan is a dreamer with a zest for life and a passion for people of earth and their culture, languages, and stories which she hopes one day to turn into some sort of wonderful career.

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