Projects bring Palestinian and Israeli youth from disadvantaged communities together through sport, providing a medium for communication and an avenue for encouraging social change.
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Sports are a powerful tool for bringing people from different backgrounds together, providing a common platform for contact and interaction. In particular, Football and Basketball ‚Äì two very popular sports among both Palestinians and Israelis ‚Äì have the power to unite youth from different sides of the divide, as Palestinians and Israelis play football and basketball according to the same rules, and even idolize the same sport stars. With this in mind, the Sport Department of the Peres Center for Peace created the Twinned Peace Sport Schools program. Launched in 2002, the project currently caters to 1,500 Palestinian and Israeli children aged 6 ‚Äì 14 from twinned communities on both sides of the border. In each locality, we establish a football or basketball school; provide the children with weekly sports training, peace education activities and inter-language learning. The children meet up with their twinned school for monthly joint Palestinian-Israeli activities and other special events. The primary long-term objectives of this program are to foster values that favor peace and coexistence between young Palestinians and Israelis by improving attitudes toward the 'other' and diffusing stereotypes. Additional special events are held throughout the year, including the Mini World Cup Tournament, summer camps and celebrations for the International Day of Peace. The Peres Center also holds various training and development activities for coaches within the program framework. Using the tool of sport, the project results are relationship building and bonding between young Palestinian and Israeli youngsters and their families; improved attitudes toward the 'other'; and greater appreciation for the values of peace. Although the cost of the program is heavily subsidized, we do ask for a contribution from each participant towards the program. This reflects a symbolic contribution relative to the actual cost of the program and it is the policy of the Peres Center that no child should miss out on our activities because of their inability to pay this fee. Therefore we endeavor to grant scholarships to children who are particularly destitute and whose families have no means of paying the admittance fee. The funds raised on The Big Give site will be used to provide these scholarships for Palestinian and Israeli children to enable their participation in this unique endeavor.
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