Sandy Spring Friends School Visits PPI – Northern Ireland

April 17, 2014
Teams from St. Lukes & Belvoir Park Primary Schools with guests from Sandy Springs High School learning about discrimination and stereotypes in sport.

Teams from St. Lukes & Belvoir Park Primary Schools with guests from Sandy Springs High School learning about discrimination and stereotypes in sport.

In March, a group of 16 students from Sandy Spring Friends School visited PPI-Northern Ireland to learn about and support conflict resolution in Belfast. Prior to their visit, the students organized a 3 on 3 basketball tournament at their school and raised over $1,000 for PPI and our work to building bridges between youth in Belfast through basketball. The following blog was written by students Stephanie Stettz and Anna McKay about their visit to Belfast:

Day Four of our adventure in Ireland started at PeacePlayers International, which is the organization we raised money for through the three-on-three basketball tournament.  When we arrived, we were assigned to one of four teams that had both Protestant and Catholic children.  The teams rotated through different activities, including dribbling and shooting drills, and an activity that taught the children about stereotypes and prejudice.

We ended our time with them by learning the PeacePlayers cheer and participating in a group huddle.  It was great to see the amazing work PeacePlayers International is doing and how the money we raised is going to help this organization bring the children of Northern Ireland together.

High school students from Sandy Spring visiting a Peace Wall in Belfast

High school students from Sandy Spring visiting a Peace Wall in Belfast

One of the members of PeacePlayers then took us on a tour to see the murals and the Peace Walls of Belfast.  Our first stop was to see Holy Cross and Wakefield Prep, one famous Catholic and Protestant school affected by the conflict of Northern Ireland.  We learned about the Catholic children and their families who were assaulted as they walked to school through a Protestant neighborhood, and how PeacePlayers had created a good relationship between the two schools.  We then got to see the different murals around Belfast, and ended the tour by signing the largest Peace Wall in Belfast, which is a barrier between a Catholic and Protestant community.

5th Graders Support Friendship Through Sport

April 4, 2014


Ben, Matt, Nate, Eli and Max show their support for PPI

Ben, Matt, Nate, Eli and Max show their support for PPI

At Congregation Beth Chaim in West Windsor, NJ, 5th grade students choose a Jewish tzedakkah project to support. The students do all the work, from researching and selecting the charities, to presenting the program to the student body and their parents. This year, five boys chose PeacePlayers as the project they wished to support. In their own words:

We chose Peace Players International as our Mitzvah Mall project because we all love basketball.  We were excited that Jews and Arabs can get more friendly by coming together and playing basketball.  We love our sport but if we can help people who don’t have enough money to play, that’s even better.

The thing that inspires us is that people are standing up for others, even though they don’t have to, through a sport that everyone loves.  It is a good experience to play basketball with others so that, if you ever meet someone different, you will learn that you can be friends no matter what.

Max Lasky

Eli Zaidi

Ben Tomfohrde

Matt Dorfman

Nate Millinger

5th Graders at Congregation Beth Chaim Religious School


Finding Friendship at the Cyprus Basketball Camp

August 27, 2013
Anurag (far right) with some of his new friends at the PeacePlayers-Cyprus Summer Camp

Anurag (far right) with some of his new friends at the PeacePlayers-Cyprus Summer Camp

Anurag Reddy, a student at UC Berkeley and sports commentator for Stanford University’s radio station, recently volunteered with PeacePlayers-Cyprus to help them out with their Summer Camp.  Each summer, in the mountain town of Agros, 64 Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot youth spend a week living together, playing basketball, and building new friendships at the PeacePlayers-Cyprus Basketball Camp. Below Anurag talks about his incredible experience building bridges through sport.

I was looking for a volunteer opportunity to keep busy during the summer, and when I discovered PeacePlayers International, I knew it was a match made in heaven. I have always had a strong passion for the game of basketball, and knew first hand the good it could do.

Anurag with former NBA player and current Assistant Coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Doug Overton

Anurag with former NBA player and current Assistant Coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Doug Overton

Awarded the chance to travel to Cyprus and volunteer for PPI-CY, I was very excited. Before I went to Cyprus, I wanted to do my part and help raise money for Peace Players International. I decided to host a 3-on-3 basketball tournament in my neighborhood. It turned out to be a rousing success, drawing more than 40 players, and raising over $140.

When the day finally came to leave for Cyprus, I was hopeful that the trip would be great. My week at the PeacePlayers Cyprus Summer Camp surpassed even my wildest dreams. Everyone was so welcoming, and the kids were terrific. It was nice to be able to bring people together through the beautiful game of basketball. It was also a privilege to be able to work with NBA coach Doug Overton and WBNA champion Kelly Schumacher. They were simply amazing, both with great basketball knowledge as well as the ability to work well with kids. I learned so much from them and the other coaches that I will take with me. Most importantly, I saw the kids show tremendous growth throughout the week, and was grateful that I could be a part of it. Whether it was playing basketball, sharing a meal, or just hanging out with each other, it was a special experience that I will never forget. I was able to forge friendships that will last a lifetime, and I can’t wait to go back next year!

Julia’s Mitzvah WOWs PPI – Middle East

July 17, 2013
Julia (second from left) with Rabbi Robert Levine at Congregation Rodeph Sholom with other students who became bat mitzvah

Julia (second from left) with Rabbi Robert Levine at Congregation Rodeph Sholom with other students who became Bat Mitzvah

Last month, Julia Kruger organized a very successful Mitzvah Project to support our program in the Middle East. Julia chose to raise money for PeacePlayers because she loves sports and is very passionate about the work PeacePlayers does to build friendships and promote peace through basketball.

Julia celebrated her Bat Mitzvah on June 1, 2013 at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York. In her Dvar Torah, or commentary, 13-year-old Julia addressed the congregation and spoke about overcoming our fears:

“Wars often start from one country fearing another and that is because what people fear the most is change and difference.  My mitzvah project PeacePlayers International tries to conquer that fear. PeacePlayers International is an organization founded off the idea that children who play basketball together can learn to live together. In the Middle East where Arabs and Jews fear each other PeacePlayers tries to get children of the two conflicting groups to play together and realize through teamwork, that they can aim towards a common goal.

By being on the same team, they start to discover their similarities and begin to break down some of those fears…which will hopefully in the future make Jews and Arabs less fearful of each other.”

Julia's guests having a blast during the competition

Julia’s guests having a blast during the basketball competition

After the services, Julia and her friends celebrated at a party, and the highlight was a basketball competition for PPI awareness. Julia’s project had an incredible outcome. Through donations and online fundraising, she raised over $30,000 for PPI-ME! The money will help Arab and Jewish children come together to break down long entrenched divides and play for a more peaceful future.

Julia plans to stay involved with PeacePlayers and will continue to spread our good work and news.  A very special thanks to Julia, her family and friends for all of their support.

Ben, Jacob, Sam, and Sammy’s May Madness Tournament Supports PPI

June 19, 2013
Ben, Jacob, Sam, and Sammy ready to play some basketball

Ben, Jacob, Sam, and Sammy ready to play at May Madness

On Sunday, May 5th, four PeacePlayers Sixthmen, Ben Shapiro, Jacob Greenblat, Sam Hull, and Sammy Dickstein hosted a May Madness charity basketball tournament to support PeacePlayers. The four boys are close friends with a shared love of basketball. For their Mitzvah Project, they decided to hold a 3-on-3 half court basketball tournament to give back to the community and those who are less fortunate. They chose to raise awareness and money for two charities that work with young people, PeacePlayers International and Alex Popeck Never Back Down Foundation.

The boys chose PeacePlayers because they are excited about the work we are doing. Sammy Dickstein tells us, “Working together on the event really brought us all together and helped us bond as friends. PeacePlayers is something we wanted to raise money for because they work in countries where there is trouble and try to stop it.”

The tournament was a huge success! It took place at Our Lady of Good Council High School in Olney, MD. 40 teams participated and many friends and family came to watch. The event also had some special guests; including the Washington Wizards Promo Squad and Walt Williams, former NBA and Maryland Terp player, was the tournament referee! There was also delicious food for participants and spectators from the Great American Hot Dog Truck.

Walt Williams joining in on the fun!

Walt Williams joining in on the fun!

The boys are very proud of the tournament and the contributions they made to PeacePlayers. Ben Shapiro says, “The event turned out great, everyone had a fun time. It took a lot of organizing but it was worth it. I wanted to help PeacePlayers International because I like how they use basketball to bring people together and to try and educate them about each other”

Their hard work paid off, May Madness raised almost $3,500 for PeacePlayers. We can’t thank Ben, Jacob, Sam, and Sammy and their families enough for the effort they put into this event. The money they have raised will go towards kids just like them and will further PeacePlayer’s mission to unite, educate, and inspire children from divided communities through basketball.

Zack and Max’s March Madness Tip Off Event a Great Success!

April 17, 2013
Kids Playing for Peace

Kids Playing for Peace at the Samberg Bar Mitzvah Tournament

Two incredible PeacePlayers Sixth Men, 12 year old Max Samberg and his 14 year old brother Zack, along with their family and friends, enjoyed a day of basketball last month to support PPI.  In honor of their Bar Mitzvahs, they hosted an awesome basketball tournament at the Carver Center in Port Chester, just outside of New York.  For an hour and a half children ran around the court making buckets, having fun, all while supporting children just like them learn to play the game they love.

Together, they set up a Fundraising Page on FirstGiving, and  raised over $2,000 dollars to help  children in Israel and the West Bank  play basketball for peace. During the event, Max said, “PeacePlayers is a great organization!  I’m happy that we surpassed our goal and am thankful for everyone who came out and supported us.” Zack added that “It was great to see how many kids turned out for such a good cause.  I’m excited to see where the money we raised is going when we see PeacePlayers in action in Israel over the summer.”

Check out this great video of Zack speaking to the group before the event:

Zack Speaks

Peace on the Hudson River

April 5, 2013
Players pose after a boisterous game

Players pose after a boisterous game

The following story is by PeacePlayers International supporter and Sixth Woman, Laura Light. 

On Thursday March 14th, the 5th grade boys and girls in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY competed in a charity basketball tournament to raise money for their new favorite cause – PeacePlayers International.  Prior to the event, the kids researched and brainstormed the best way to give back to the world through basketball, a beloved sport in this small rivertown community.  They decided that supporting PeacePlayers (in its effort to use basketball to inspire, educate, and resolve conflict) would do just that!

The kids (all of whom play in either the rec or CYO leagues in Hastings) displayed great sportsmanship and had lots of fun from beginning to end.  The game was reffed by a local celebrity, Steve Tuber, the head of the rec league in town.  To even out the score, it was decided that each boy’s basket would count as 1 point and each girl’s basket as 2 points.  The boys – clearly NOT-the-crowd-favorites despite their amazing skills and new white t-shirts designed just for the event – took an early lead, and after the first half, were winning by 6 points.  But after a hard-fought second half (and a lot of wildly enthusiastic cheering from the crowd and the bench), the girls came back and won by 1 point (22-21), when a last-second attempt didn’t fall for the boys team.  In between each quarter in keeping with the light-hearted, community-minded spirit of the event, the kids participated in various entertaining games including a free-throw shooting contest, a relay race, and a behind-the-back shot.  And after the game, the players all celebrated together with pizza.

Without a doubt, this will become an annual event in the Hastings-on-Hudson community, and we look forward to supporting PeacePlayers for years to come!

If you are interested in becoming a PeacePlayers Sixth Man or Woman, visit the “Get Involved” page of our website.


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