This past Friday and Saturday, Ultimate Peace gathered more than 50 diverse young people to spend time together and learn a lot about leadership. Arriving from more than 10 different Arab and Jewish communities by bus, car, and train, these spectacular teenagers began their year together.

The weekend started with a welcoming ceremony from Program Leader Rachel Winner about transitioning from what was the “Coaches-in-Training” Program to the “Leaders-in-Training” (LIT) Program.The change in name from CIT to LIT reflects the program design to learn both leadership for the sport of ultimate and in communities and beyond. LIT Program managers include four recent CIT graduates!

This LIT meeting was originally planned for earlier in October. Because of the escalating tensions around us, staff decided to change the date and the location. We instead hosted at a new facility called Givat Haviva, one of the oldest intentional communities in the region designed for coexistence and capacity building. Tensions have diffused somewhat, although not completely, and the enthusiasm and focus of our nearly 60 youth brought game-changing energy and hope to what had been a challenging start to the year.

Each of the three LIT groups spent time discussing group visions, goals, and activities for the year ahead. They introduced how to teach ultimate to beginners, coach drills, and draft a practice plan. Each group played ultimate and other games, ran team-building activities and individual skills like the active listening workshops David Barkan ran for camp coaches this past summer. For the first time, the second year cohort started discussing together what peace looks like – it was an inspiring and respectful conversation.

Overall, the meeting’s emphasis was on building new relationships and reuniting with old friends. The LIT Program’s theme for the year is “Focus on the Future” and LITs will be encouraged to realize their individual visions while supporting each others’, too. This wonderful group of young leaders gives us hope by persevering through challenging times to continue developing themselves and their peers as leaders in working towards a brighter vision than our current reality.

Please join us in congratulating all the LITs on their successful meeting, especially the First-Years for whom this weekend was their first foray in Youth Leadership with Ultimate Peace. Good luck to UP’s first-ever “Leaders-in-Training” throughout the year and three-year program!