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Peace Players International Bringing Neighbors At Odds Together

By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - In places where prejudice and intolerance are part of the environment, Peace Players International bridges social divides on the premise that children who play together can learn to live together.

The program, started in 2001, targets kids ages 10-14 from historically divided regions and different religious, racial and cultural backgrounds, old enough to master the basics of basketball but young enough that many prejudices have not been cemented.

It uses the game and life-skills activities to enable kids to live with friends and neighbors peaceably in their communities. In Cyprus, hundreds of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots play together.

In Northern Ireland, entire classes of grades 5 and 6 from neighboring Protestant and Catholic schools come together for games and community relations sessions in mixed groups.

In Israel, Arabs and Jews play basketball on mixed teams and participate in joint peace education activities enabling children contact who would otherwise rarely interact.

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