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The Choice of Peace: PeacePlayers Most Significant Change Stories

The Choice of Peace: PeacePlayers Most Significant Change Stories

Publication type

Research and Project Evaluations

Established in 2001, PeacePlayers uses the game of basketball to unite, educate and inspire young people living in divided communities. Based on the premise that “children who play together can learn to live together,” PeacePlayers has become a worldwide leader in the use of sport to build a more peaceful world, reaching more than 75,000 youth in 15 countries.

Most Significant Change” (MSC) is a monitoring and evaluation methodology that centers on the systematic collection and analysis of stories about change. In 2017, PeacePlayers completed a multi-year, global MSC evaluation project, engaging youth participants, coaches, staff and stakeholders across five program sites: Middle East, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Cyprus and Washington, D.C. A total of 73 stories were collected for the project; after three rounds of a participatory selection process, one story from the Middle East on friendship and hope for the future emerged as the “most significant of all.”

The MSC stories reflect a variety of themes—increased confidence, friendships, stereotype reduction, interpersonal skill development, etc.—illustrating the wide range of changes experienced by those who take part in PeacePlayers. Among the many stories shared, several key themes emerged:

  • Importance of psychosocial resources to peacebuilding: 69% of stories described the significance of psychosocial resources such as self-confidence and leadership. These are critical to both individual youth development, as well as to the peacebuilding process on a broader societal level. Youth who are confident and have leadership skills are better equipped to speak out against stereotypes and discrimination, actively furthering peace in their communities. 
  • Creating space for formal and informal time: The stories highlighted two distinct features of PeacePlayers programming that create change: formal and informal time. Formal, structured activities such as basketball practice, peace education curriculum, etc., help youth gain specific skills. Equally important is feeling supported by coaches and welcomed by other participants; in short, the atmosphere and “culture” developed around the program.
  • Program context and change: In each PeacePlayers site a different type of change emerged as most significant, demonstrating how context determines what is most important in peacebuilding programming. While friendship development or positive attitudes might be central to peacebuilding in one place, self-confidence or leadership could be more critical in others. This finding reinforces the importance of adaptable programming, driven by a strong program design process that is inclusive of local participants, staff and community members.

Please visit the PeacePlayers website to learn more:



Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - 11:08