KwaZulu Natal has many problems. More than a decade after apartheid ended in South Africa, the effects still linger and remain a part of every day life for black South African children. South African society remains divided both by race and social classes. Black and white South African youth seldom interact in a meaningful way.
One of the initiatives that is working to remove these barriers to racial and societal harmony is Playing for Peace.
Founded in 2001, this organization has been involved in working to break down racial barriers, educate children about health issues, and providing alternatives to crime. It is also molding young South African adults into role models in their communities in order to effect positively change and strengthen those communities.
Despite the difficulties and obstacles, of HIV/AIDS, high crime rates, drugs & alcohol abuse, and high school dropout rates, Playing For Peace is creating constructive outlets for children in KwaZulu Natal.
When you look at the numbers you can see that since December 2000, Playing for Peace, South Africa has:
• Taught the game of basketball to over 25,000 children from the city of Durban, its suburbs and its surrounding townships
• Actively involved 7,000 10-14 year old boys and girls from 98 schools who participate in inter-community leagues, life skills clinics, tournaments and clubs
• Trained and employed 100 young South African adults to serve as coaches and youth mentors
• Built 45 outdoor basketball courts each of which is affixed with AIDS awareness message
• Held 8 tournaments each involving over 2,000 children who participate on mixed teams
The organization has also developed, in partnership with Harvard University 's School of Public Health and the University of Natal, a program-wide HIV/AIDS Awareness initiative. As a registered charity in South Africa with an active board of directors Playing for Peace has also partnered with such organizations such as:
The Laureus Sport For Good Foundation
The Nelson Mandela's Children Fund and
The South African government, to name a few
Playing for Peace's program activities are:
Bringing together thousands of children from different backgrounds to play basketball and to forge positive relationships that transcend race, culture and religion;
Facilitating the acquiring of critical leadership tools for young adults so that they can make a positive difference in their communities and on the lives of the children with whom they work;
Utilizing the expertise of academics and community leaders to effectively educate children about AIDS and other critical health issues;
Constructing basketball courts at clubs and schools where the program operates;
Building community ownership and sustainability
Some of those activities are:
• Schools Program – that work with sixth, seventh and eighth grade boys and girls after school twice a week during the school day.
• Pairing of Schools – that facilitates weekly and bi-monthly programs for children from the paired schools to play basketball together in a festive atmosphere.
• Life Skills Curriculum – that addresses important social issues in appropriate ways for these 10-14 year old boys and girls and provides them with the knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes and self-images that will enable them to lead healthy, productive lives.
• Rural Outreach Program – that has expanded to the initiatives to the rural communities of Molweni and Umbumbulu in 2004, and worked with over 250 grade 6 boys and girls in these areas.
• Under 16 Club League – that operate under 16 youth basketball clubs in strategically located sites so as to involve children from across racial and cultural backgrounds.
• Basketball/ Life Skill Clinics – that combine fundamental basketball instruction with life skills workshops.
Additionally Playing for Peace conducts 2 major tournaments each year and has constructed approximately 40 basketball courts over the past two years.
In August of 2005 Steve Kerr, a professional basketball player with the US National Basketball Association visited the Laureus-supported Playing for Peace project in Molweni, South Africa in order to inaugurate a newly opened basketball court for underprivileged youth.
Youth from three local schools in a training session with Steve Kerr and having some fun playing basketball as well.
Playing for Peace is credited for breaking down racial barriers in Kwazulu-Natal, and teaching youth in that area about AIDS and other critical health issues.
Playing for Peace is doing a lot of good in South Africa. I only gave you the briefest outlines of their various programs, and I hope that you will visit their web site so that you can learn more about the wonderful program that they have for youth. I’ve listed the web sites for Playing For Peace – South Africa, Playing For Peace and Laureus.
Playing For Peace – South Africa
Playing For Peace