Ultimate Peace is a growing 501(c)3 non-profit organization that depends on donations to give youth in the Middle East a chance to build friendships by playing ultimate frisbee. We began our work in the Middle East in April of 2009, and continue to deepen and broaden the impact of our regional program today.
As division has grown between Jews and Arabs/Palestinians in the Middle East, chances have dwindled for youth from these disconnected cultural groups to interact in a meaningful or positive way. This unhealthy cycle of social isolation escalates each year, paving the way for increased, avoidance, fear, and prejudice. Given the scarcity of efforts by educational and social systems to bring these young people together, the need for untried innovative solutions becomes more pronounced. Next generations must get to know one another in order to trust one another. They must see develop understanding, compassion, and affinity for one another. If things don’t change, current norms and trends will only pull them further apart.
Ultimate Peace was founded and launched in 2009 as a multicultural nonprofit with this mission: To build bridges of friendship, trust, and leadership among Arab, Jewish, and Palestinian youth, using the values-based tool of Ultimate Frisbee (Ultimate) as our tool. The first pilot event was held in Tel Aviv, bringing 150 youth from 9 communities in the West Bank and Israel to learn to play Ultimate together. That seminal event spurred the creation of year-round innovative programs in Israel and the West Bank. Since 2010, these programs have engaged between 300-500 youth per year in educational, sports, and leadership programming.
A critical part of the UP program is Camp Ultimate Peace, a groundbreaking overnight summer camp that has been facilitated for 10 summers. Each summer, hundreds of campers experience immersion in the UP experience. The “Oasis of Peace” created in Ashkelon provides vital respite from the camper’s daily experiences living in a conflict zone where interaction with one another is almost
Our flagship offering, the UP “Leader in Training” program, is a one-of-a-kind leadership program that accepts 20 select multicultural participants a year to fully engage in a 3-year intensive educational and personal development experience. LIT’s form deep bonds with one another in the program and find ways to interact on their own outside of it. LIT Graduates are applying their transformative experiences and lessons in universities, the military, the workplace, and back in their communities.
New programs are always being designed and facilitated by a professional local and international staff to meet evolving community and societal needs. Barriers abound, including the political climate that has curtailed our ability over the last few years to provide programs in the West Bank. Yet we persevere, with the mindset that we will overcome such challenges, and the knowledge and confidence that Ultimate Peace provides a life-changing experience for Middle East youth worthy of deep investment in continuous improvement and expansion.
The program takes place in a politically charged region, but political discussion and solution finding is deliberately avoided. The focus of the UP program is on providing a positive, educational, multicultural experience that is healthy, enriching, inspiring, and fun for youth. We hold the belief that the widespread changes in behavior we aspire to facilitate will require deep and enduring shifts in awareness. Consequently, our programs are designed to focus on altering mindsets and perceptions by providing shared experiences in which recreational enjoyment, personal reflection, culturing sharing, and experiential learning are emphasized and balanced.
Core Principles and Practices
Grounded by our principles, every Ultimate Peace project will strive to:
- Create opportunities for youth from disparate backgrounds to play and learn Ultimate together
- Organize teams of expert players and coaches to teach and serve as role models for youth
- Focus on skill-building, relationship building, team building, community building and developing young leaders
- Engage parents, coaches, teachers, and the business community in all we do
- Develop capacity in local communities to ensure sustainability.