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Harnessing Sport for Youth-led Social Change

Partners: Olympic Council of Asia
GFP vehicle: Sport For Peace
Years: 2022 – 2023

With thirty years of separatist violence and civil war, communities in Sri Lanka have been marked by long-lasting divisions among ethnic groups, intensifying obstacles to peaceful interaction and mutual understanding. Generations For Peace (GFP) has implemented programmes in Sri Lanka to promote peacebuilding among youth in Sri Lanka’s divided communities. Implemented with the support of the Olympic Council of Asia, GFP’s Harnessing Sport for Youth-led Social Change Programme aimed to address inter-group identity conflict to enhance social cohesion among diverse youth from different sides of the conflict.

Through GFP’s carefully-facilitated Sport For Peace activities, the Programme has built acceptance and cooperation among Tamil, Sinhala, and Muslim youth between the ages of 14-19, and indirectly benefitted their parents and peers.  Since its launch in 2022, the Programme has reached and benefited 225 youth directly and 1,000 parents and community members. 

 

Data-verification points

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The Beneficiary Community showed a 33% increase in the level of understanding towards people with a different ethno-religious background to their own.

This was measured based on the beneficiary community members expressing how much they understand others of different ethnic and religious identities.

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The Beneficiary Community showed a 26% increase in the level of trust towards people with a different ethno-religious background to their own.

This was measured based on the beneficiary community members expressing how much they trust others of different ethnic and religious identities.

Testimonials

Participant

Through this Programme, I learned many good things about my life. I had no Tamil and Muslim friends but after joining, I met a Tamil friend, and she is so kind. I learned the cultural differences and similarities of other ethnicities and religions. We could freely interact with Tamil and Muslim friends and made lasting friendships. All the Delegates guided us well. I learned the value and importance of being together and working as a team.

Parent

Initially, I was hesitant to let my daughter join this Programme as many multi-ethnic participants took part. Now, I fully appreciate how crucial these initiatives are for children, in general, to learn about other ethnicities and help them build together towards a peaceful community. We felt safety and security from the Delegates and GFP team and the support they provided to our children. I credit the Delegates and the GFP team for providing invaluable resources throughout this Programme.

Participant

I learned the value of respecting parents, good friends, being together, education, and diversity through this Programme. I feel lucky to have such an amazing opportunity. Meeting and playing with my Tamil and Muslim friends was a new experience. I will maintain all the good practices I learned in this Programme.

Stories of Change, in Their Words…

From Steps to Strides

I used to become demotivated if someone said negative comments about me. I was shy to come forward in front of people and was reluctant to talk with people from other ethnic communities. I joined this Programme with a friend. After joining, I learned there should be a good and strong relationship between multi-ethnic communities to create a peaceful environment. The leadership skills I learned here changed me and made me see the value of working according to a plan. Now I started to study well to achieve all my targets. I thank the team for their dedication and for providing me with all the resources I needed and for supporting me throughout this Programme. – Manjula Pradeep, 16-year-old Youth Participant, Sinhala Galle District

 

Discovering Confidence 

My name is Sooriya Rajini. I used to always spend time alone, and I love being alone, because I always used to underestimate myself and compare myself to others. I had very few friends to communicate with in school because I feared sharing my thoughts with others and whether they would think about my ideas and opinions. I participated in this Programme with one of my friends. After participating, my way of thinking totally changed. My communication and leadership have greatly increased thanks to this Programme. My parents and family are surprised to see me being social with others! – S. Sooriya Rajini, 15-year-old Youth Participant, Tamil Mannar District