Boys & Girls Clubs building peace through sports

BGCC teams up with international peacebuilding organization to empower youth to “Change the Game”


Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, in partnership with Operation Keepsake, Inc. (OK, Inc.), will be hosting CourtVision International (CVI)’s GameChangers Challenge Dec.20-22 at the King Kennedy Club.

The GameChangers Challenge is a three-day peacebuilding workshop that utilizes sports for healthy youth development. The workshop will run from 3:30-7:30 each day at the Club, 2561 E. 59th St., Cleveland.

“We see sports as a safe, interactive way for youth to develop critical social skills, such as the ability to work together, resolve conflict, and become problem-solvers,” said CVI’s Founder and Executive Director, Robert Pecchio. “We are excited that the Boys & Girls Clubs in Cleveland share that same passion for sports education.”

Currently headquartered in Miami, Florida, CVI began as a small sports project offered through OK, Inc.’s summer camps.   The project has now facilitated programs with youth from the Caribbean to the Middle East.

During the three-day GameChangers Challenge, more than 40 youth will have the opportunity to change the traditional rules of basketball gameplay to foster negotiation, public-speaking and peer-mediation modules or challenges. The youth will also use the game of basketball to role-play conflict resolution scenarios, facilitated by the CVI’s program staff.

“Basketball is clearly a draw for our kids, and this program is ideal for meeting them where they are comfortable,” said BGCC President and CEO Ron Soeder. “The neighborhoods around the King Kennedy Club are filled with neighborhood tension. Our hope is that programs like this will help our members handle conflict in a peaceful and respectful way that will prevent kids from being hurt.”

Following the completion of the program, youth will be encouraged to use their new skills to become civically and globally involved with other CVI participants from the Dominican Republic, Central America and the Middle East.