By Guest Blogger Andrew J. Robinson
Peace education is often taught through language arts, social studies, and character education classes. Guidance counselors, social workers and librarians share resources and offer classes to help young people learn friendship, kindness and conflict resolution skills. But through athletics and physical fitness programs children also learn successful team building skills, the value of honesty and hard work, as well as the ability to work together and support fellow athletes from different cultures and ethnicities.
I would like to share with you a few of the many organizations that are supporting peace in sports. The first group is the Peace Players International organization. Peace Players International was founded in 2001 by two brothers, who decided that they wanted to make a difference in the world through peace education. Over the past 13 years, Brendan and Sean Tuohey have been strong advocates of the idea that children who are able to play together will be better able to live together. Peace Players International (PPI) utilizes the sport of basketball to bring children together to teach them methods for improving their community and to explore alternative ways of managing conflicts. PPI is essential to the children who reside in conflict zones because they are educating these children on concepts of acceptance and harmony and transforming the way they handle conflict.
Another group doing important work in this area is Coaches across Continents. Coaches across Continents was founded in 2008 by Nick Gates, a former soccer coach and executive. It is a social movement that stresses the importance of female empowerment, health and wellness, and positive conflict resolution techniques. They are providing young girls with the confidence to address gender inequalities and to create equal opportunities for all women throughout the world.
Peace educators know that there are many avenues open to teaching the necessary skills to be accepting of the rights of others as well as the various non-violent methods of conflict resolution. Peace Players International and Coaches across Continents are two examples of groups that are working for peace education and human security awareness through athletics and teamwork.
Some books for adults and children to share:
Good Sports (Cork and Fuzz)Cork is a short muskrat who likes to win at games. Fuzz is a tall possum who also likes to win at games. These best friends both like to win. What will happen when they play games against each other? This book works well as a read-alone or a read together book for pre-readers and young readers. The humorous illustrations and human-like dialogue will capture the imagination of reader and listener. Check out other Cork & Fuzz titles, too.
Hank Aaron: Brave in Every Way. On April 8, 1974, America watched as Hank Aaron stepped up to the plate and hit home run number 715! With that hit, he surpassed Babe Ruth’s legendary baseball record and realized a lifelong dream. Before blacks were allowed in the major leagues, Hank was determined to play. This picture book biography tells his story of perseverance during a time of great social unrest and racial tension in the United States.
Players In Pigtails. This fictional story is about one determined girl who made her way to the big leagues and found a sisterhood of players in pigtails. Reflecting the determined spirit that led to the formation of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, this dramatic and humorous picture book celebrates girls who loved the game of baseball. Set in 1942, the story and illustrations will open discussions about life in this era and the impact of World War II on American women.
Stealing Home: The Story Of Jackie Robinson (Scholastic Biography)Man on third. Two outs. The pitcher eyes the base runner, checks for the sign. The fans in the jammed stadium hold their breath. It is September 1955, game one of the World Series, the Yankees versus the Dodgers, and Jackie Robinson is about to do the unbelievable. Attempt to steal home. In a World Series game. To race a baseball thrown from the pitcher’s mound and win! Is it possible? This picture book offers and exciting story and plenty of historical detail for all ages.
You’re a Good Sport, Miss Malarkey
Miss Malarkey has always been a team player. That’s why she’s been recruited to be one of the coaches for the new soccer league. While her motto is, “Let’s have fun!” the parents have other goals in mind. Forget sportsmanship and doing your best, winning is everything to these grown-ups. It’s up to Miss Malarkey to set the spectators straight. This is the fourth book in the Miss Malarkey series. Humorous illustrations by Baltimore artist, Kevin O’Malley will keep the youngest listener engaged and chuckling as they learn an important message about good sportsmanship.
Finklehopper FrogWhen Finklehopper Frog decides to give jogging a try, everyone laughs at his efforts. But Finklehopper learns that it’s best to be himself and do what he loves–because that’s the perfect way for him! Using rhyming verse, Livingston explores the peace concepts of individuality and diversity.
These books are available for loan from the Peace Study Center.
AJ Robinson is a fitness professional and Program Director at the Catonsville Y of Central Maryland. He has a B.S. in Business Management and Entrepreneurship from the University of Baltimore and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Global Affairs and Human Security.