• ENGSO Youth

Adapting to the Pandemic | Play2EDUCATE

Author: Gena Sturgon, Founder & President of Play2EDUCATE and ENGSO Youth Young Delegate

As we all know, 2020 was extremely challenging and uncertain for everyone around the world. The sport and sport for development sectors were hit exceptionally hard by lockdown and health restrictions that prevented in-person group gatherings and limited how people could engage in fitness/ sport to help protect health. After overcoming the initial shock of the pandemic and the accompanying restrictions, many sport for development organizations devised creative alternatives to continue their work.

Play2EDUCATE (P2E), a sport for development and peacebuilding nonprofit/ nongovernmental organization in Kosovo, suspended its regular programs for all of 2020 due to the pandemic situation. In Kosovo, the waves of high infection rates continued throughout most of the year, which meant that group sizes, activity implementation, and people’s engagement levels remained limited. P2E saw this as an opportunity to develop online activities to continue youth engagement, as well as an opportunity to further embrace and develop its peacebuilding and conflict resolution aspects.

P2E implemented three different types of online activities throughout 2020 with the purpose of providing (Kosovo) youth with valuable online engagements to help pass the time while facing movement restrictions and stay at home orders.

1) Throughout spring, P2E hosted regular online guest speakers and dialogue activities, which covered the topics of peacebuilding, sport and the media, mental health and wellbeing, CV/resume writing, identity, privilege, and the environment.

2) Based on the request and lead of regular online participants, P2E created an online dialogue group for young females, which participants named, ‘Revolutionary Sundays’. This activity brought together female youth from across Kosovo every Sunday to dialogue about gender equality topics and other current events from the female perspective – always participant suggested and selected. Topics covered included but were not limited to: race/racism, setting healthy boundaries, gendered language, the patriarchy in general, traditions and beliefs of marriage and having children, and gendered local cultural practices.

3) P2E collaborated with female (youth) volunteers associated with Creators of Peace (CoP) Australia (part of Initiatives of Change) to adapt and implement the CoP Peace Circle curriculum. The female volunteers worked with the P2E Director to adapt, with permission from CoP, the original Peace Circle curriculum to fit an online, youth audience. Adaptations included the incorporation of both dialogue and interactive (including some physical) activities to make the online experience more engaging and dynamic. The collaborative team then implemented the redesigned curriculum by hosting an online P2E-CoP Peace Circle with female youth from Kosovo and Lebanon. The main goal of the adapted and original Peace Circle programs is to empower females as peacebuilders within themselves and their communities, while also creating/ growing a support network of female peacebuilders – which in this case was between female youth peacebuilders in Kosovo and Lebanon, two groups of people that are not often brought together.

The trials and tribulations of 2020 may have prevented Play2EDUCATE from implementing its regular lineup of sport for development and peace programs, but the organization took the opportunity to further develop its online presence and alternative means of youth engagement, as well as its peacebuilding aspects.

Going forward P2E looks forward to including these online activities into its regular schedule of programming, and hopes (as most everyone) that sport and sport for development organizations can begin operating normally again in the near future.