Ultimate Peace (UP) has provided groundbreaking sports and leadership programs to thousands of diverse Middle East youth since 2010. Sadly, COVID-19 in 2020 and the Middle East upheaval of 2021 stopped all UP programming. The precious interwoven cross-cultural connections and friendships, bound by years of hard earned trust, were pulled at the seams. Yet they were not torn. After a year of listening to and planning with our youth and staff, we will proudly launch reinvigorated programs in 2022.
The challenges of 2020 and 2021 led to significant changes in the environment in which we operated for our first 10 years. UP would have to adjust and change to be relevant in this new environment if we wanted to continue and thrive. The Board, staff and volunteers worked together to discover new pathways we believe will help us achieve unprecedented impact and scale. Now, with our new vision and strategic framework in hand, we are ready to launch an exciting dynamic ultimate program in 2022.
The Middle East has seen renewed interest in cross-cultural programming, and UP is uniquely positioned to meet this need. Our refreshed program will allow us to expand our values- based Ultimate Frisbee programs to more communities, and to enhance cross-cultural activities that bring the youth of disparate communities together. This project will also allow us to further embed the values of Equity and Access into all that we do.
We have learned that long-term sustainable improvement in relations between groups historically divided by regional conflict must ultimately begin with relationships. UP has always prioritized bringing youth together to build bridges of friendship and trust. The graduates of our Leaders in Training program are exemplars; whether they identify as Arab, Jew or Palestinian, the humanistic values they internalized in UP profoundly affect their personal, professional, and academic lives as adults.