By Rachel Taber
Senior Dani Glass has been working with the organization Ultimate Peace, located in Israel, for six years. The program aims to bring together kids from different backgrounds. Ultimate Peace has a camp each summer, but also weekly practices in many communities.
Ultimate Peace focuses on giving kids the opportunity to meet peers that they have never gotten the chance to and build lasting relationships. “Ultimate Peace is a peace-building organization that uses the sport of ultimate Frisbee to bring together youth from Arab Israeli, Jewish Israeli, and Palestinian backgrounds,” explained Glass.
“So we put them on teams together, we teach them how to play ultimate together, and we teach them about spirit,” said Glass. “Through that they create these lasting relationships that they would have never gotten the chance to create otherwise.”
Ultimate Peace has grown and this year has had their first Coaches in Training (CIT) group graduate the three-year program. “Middle Eastern kids who have really shown themselves to be leaders can apply and if they’re accepted into this CIT program they do leadership training and they meet all year round,” Glass said “It really ensures that Ultimate Peace is a consistent thing in their lives rather than something they just do in the summer,” said Glass
Although Ultimate Peace is making a difference, not all groups want to participate. “Some families within some communities certainly embraced it more than others. Because these kids are coming from such diverse backgrounds, some are very interested in peace-building organizations and others see the other group as something different, something dangerous, something they don’t want to be a part of.”
Participation has increased since it began due to participants going back into their communities and sharing their experiences.
“At first he said ‘No, I want nothing to do with them,’ and then the next year his teachers talked to him about it again and he decided to come,” Glass explained on the experience of one camper. “His whole family was against this idea but he came anyway, and the next year he had five younger brothers and cousins coming with him.”
There are many ways to get involved with the program. “Camp is non-profit; every staff member has to raise a certain amount of money or pay extra to come to camp,” Glass said. “So another way to get involved is to hit the donate button, or encourage your team or your group to get in touch with us and raise money to sponsor a kid to come to camp, or to pay for every kid to get a disc or a jersey.” There are also coach and American CIT applications that come out each December.
Ultimate Peace allows both campers and coaches learn from the experience. “Ultimate Peace has made me grow as a person so much. What happens at camp is we have these kids coming in who speak different languages,” Glass said. “You have to be super concise and there are so any times that a translator isn’t available so I have to find ways to explain it through body language, through expression.”
“Ultimate Peace has given me a chance to step out of my comfort zone and realize I love being out of my comfort zone,” said Glass. “I’ve gained so many skills, not just for my own being out-going, but for my own ability to work with people who learn in very different ways. “
Ultimate is a huge event that allows everyone involved to feel like a part of something larger. “It’s so much work, sometimes I look around me and I can’t believe that we’ve pulled it off. It’s this massive group effort and I’ve never felt so big and so important, and I’ve never felt so involved before,” Glass said. “I know with everything I do, not only are kids watching and I’m setting an example, but I’m a part of this machine that needs every single person to work.”
“At camp, I get to see kids who have always been mistrustful of one another come together and cheer for each other, and high five, and embrace. By the time they leave every single person is in tears.”