PeacePlayers and the UN Sustainable Development Goals

May 23, 2024



As a global movement, it’s vital that we operate intentionally within the global development space. That means making sure to align our goals and impact with other crucial efforts around the globe. That’s why, we wholeheartedly adopt the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to keep our programs relevant to global currents. After all, our own impact as an organization, however significant, is nothing compared to the impact we have working alongside thousands of other organizations around the world, in an effort to achieve the same goals.

PeacePlayers tackles four USDGs in particular: Good health and wellbeing; Gender equality; Reduced inequalities; Peace, justice and strong institutions


Here’s how:

What that means at PeacePlayers: Improved physical and mental health through a combination of sustained athletic activity and positive personal connections



  • Young people who play sports have better physical health, higher self-esteem, are less likely to experience depression or anxiety and enjoy an overall greater quality of life.
  • PeacePlayers couples the built-in power of sport with empowering mentorship and life skills learning.
  • 2023 external evaluations, conducted by Dr. Ruth Ditlmann and Dr. Neijla Asimovic, found that the longer youth are involved in PeacePlayers, the more empowered and less anxious they become.

SDG # 3 in Action


Mental Health is at Center Court at PeacePlayers Northern Ireland 


At PeacePlayers Northern Ireland, mental health is a central focus of the Leadership Development Program. Stress management is a crucial component of the Leadership Development Program, as participants are taught effective strategies to cope with the pressures they may face in their personal and academic lives. Emphasizing mental health education ensures that participants are equipped to recognize signs of mental health challenges, both in themselves and their peers, fostering a culture of empathy and support within the program and their teams. The integration of stress management, mindfulness, and mental health sessions aligns with the belief that a healthy mind is essential for effective leadership on and off the court. 

What that means at PeacePlayers: Equitable opportunities for athletic engagement and other vital opportunities for young people of all genders



  • Sport helps transform gender norms, and improve body image and self-esteem.
  • Girls who play sports are more likely to get better grades and graduate high school.
  • Globally, 50% of PeacePlayers participants are girls. In the Middle East, 70% are girls. Nearly 70% of staff are female.
  • Safe, welcoming spaces for LGBT+ youth to play sports are rare, but when included, they experience less depression and higher self-esteem.
  • PeacePlayers creates safe, inclusive spaces for youth of all genders and orientations to thrive
  • Gender equity is most sustainable when boys and men are cultivated as allies.
  • PeacePlayers’ mixed-gender coaching staff educates and inspires young boys to become supporters and change-makers for gender equity

SDG #5 in Action


PeacePlayers Los Angeles Girls’ Leadership Development Program: A safe and inclusive space for girls and non-binary identifying youth 


PeacePlayers United States intentionally creates a space where youth of all genders and orientations can feel safe and accepted. PeacePlayers Los Angeles’ Girls Leadership Development Program (LDP) creates a gender affirming space, where the team is intentional about sharing pronouns and helps normalize topics related to the development of girls and their bodies. On one occasion, PeacePlayers helped the girls choose new sports bras to increase their comfort and mobility on and off the court. All PeacePlayers Los Angeles staff identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and have created a safe and inclusive community where girls feel comfortable asking questions and sharing their stories. 

What that means at PeacePlayers: Youth gain skills, personal resources and community connections to overcome systemic inequalities and live healthy, fulfilled, choice-filled lives



  • Playing sports boosts young people’s readiness for the workplace, building skills like goal setting, time management, personal responsibility, social skills and self-control.
  • Youth who play sports boast increased determination, resilience and critical thinking.
  • PeacePlayers combines quality sports education with personal mentorship for success, ensuring youth have the skills and resources to reach their goals, no matter who they are or where they’re from.

SDG #10 in Action



Getting Hands-On at PeacePlayers Brooklyn’s Career Summit

For many of our youth, historic divestment and discrimination have made it harder to navigate the way to professional success. That’s why, in 2021, PeacePlayers United States launched a Career Readiness Program – to equip young people with practical skills and resources to thrive in the workplace and pursue dignified, family-sustaining careers. As part of Career Readiness, PeacePlayers launched its first Career Summit in Brooklyn in the summer of 2023, hosted in partnership with Long Island University – Brooklyn and the Roc Nation School of Music, Sports & Entertainment. During the day-long event, professionals from Cutwater Agency, LK Wellness, DEI Dream Financial, and the Client Agency provided expert insight on successfully navigating career journeys.


Youth also received professional headshots to build their online presence and took part in workshops led by industry experts on topics like financial literacy, resume building, entrepreneurship, and healthy methods of dealing with career stress and burnout.


PeacePlayers Brooklyn Director Alesha Smith shares: “One of the things that I have realized is that we can provide our kids with all the leadership skills and peace education there is, but if we don’t put them in rooms of opportunity and help to build their social capital, those skills that we have assisted them in building will not be put to optimal use. Our PPBK Career Summit provides youth with the opportunity to gain insights and cultivate relationships with a diverse range of professionals, ensuring they are well-prepared for their own unique future.”

What that means at PeacePlayers: Participants, coaches, partners, and their families and friends form a community dedicated to peace, equity and inclusion, on a personal and institutional level



  • Sports provide a common goal for cooperation across conflict lines. 
  • At PeacePlayers, youth from conflict groups play on the same team, working together towards a shared victory.
  • Recent external evaluations, conducted by Dr. Ruth Ditlmann and Dr. Neijla Asimovic, found that the longer youth are involved in PeacePlayers,
  • the less prejudiced their attitudes are 
  • the more friends they have on the other side of the divide.
  • PeacePlayers sites around the globe hold public events that expand impact to the wider community

SDG #16 in Action


PeacePlayers Middle East Policy Paper Levels the Playing Field for Palestinian Women Athletes


In over 15 years uniting Palestinian and Israeli youth through basketball, PeacePlayers have had many significant wins on the individual and institutional levels. But, in the summer of 2020, PeacePlayers Middle East also began to turn its attention to policy when it launched research on the policies that undermine Arab-Jewish equity in sports, particularly for Arab women in Israel. Through research, advocacy, and training with key institutions, PeacePlayers Middle East produced a policy paper released in summer 2023. Impact was evident when Athena, a women’s sports advocacy organization and focus of the paper, invited the first-ever Palestinian participants into their ambassadors program, after recognizing the significant disparity highlighted by this project. One of the ambassadors is PeacePlayers’ very own coach Noor Kayuf, who also plays for the national Israeli basketball team.

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