meet aj

Long-time Participant of PeacePlayers Northern Ireland

September 27, 2021



For long-time participant AJ, a 16 year old from north Belfast, it’s the people that have been keeping them coming back to programming ever since their first session in Autumn 2014.

“It's gotta be the people… [to see] frequent faces that are always there, [that] drive you forward, and teach you every time you see them. There's always a new learning experience each week. Being able to connect to them has really made me feel like I was a part of a family outside of my own.”


This is something AJ values greatly because when they’re not with PeacePlayers, they don’t feel they have the same connection with others. AJ says, “you can say one thing wrong and that’s a whole friend you’ve just lost.” Whereas, with PeacePlayers, “[we] have this unspoken oath to each other that no matter what, we are a family, we have each other’s backs. Even if there’s a slip up, we’re still going to push through; we’re still friends,” said AJ.


That unspoken oath has a lot to do with seeing people as people, PeacePlayers’ core value that means we try to see the humanity in others no matter what. 

AJ PeacePlayers Northern Ireland

And for AJ, on top of creating dependable relationships, seeing people as people also impacts how they deal with individual differences – their own included.

“It's normal to be with people who aren't the same as me. I [attended] an all girl Catholic [primary] school and I walked out of fifth year [secondary school] as an atheist, non binary who doesn't care what you look like or who you are, as a person, as long as you're good. Peaceplayers definitely taught me that it is alright to be friends with and to know people who aren't the same as me.”


AJ is a testament to what can happen when we see people as people. How that supportive environment not only impacts how we interact with each other, but how we see ourselves. To be able to go out into the world and see someone who is different and be excited and curious; to go out into the world as someone different, and have the confidence to create change.  

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