PACES was founded in 2006 with the aim of providing healthy, structured after-school sports programs for Palestinian girls and boys; for girls as a means of getting them out of their homes and into programs that empower them within their communities, and for boys who would otherwise be on the streets and exposed to violence and negative or destructive influences.
Through our programs we provide Palestinian children an escape from being idle on the streets, or in their homes, an escape that is fun, healthy, and encourages participation and excellence in an activity that is extremely important to their development. Moreover, we encourage active citizenship and provide young people with the opportunity to develop values such as respect for the opponent, adherence to rules, teamwork and fair play. We combine sport with non-sport factors to enhance our programs and we have partnerships with local and international NGOs to provide the children with workshops and exposure beyond sports that give them additional development opportunities. Our programs promote gender equality and we are extremely proud to have achieved our goal of a 50% girl’s participation rate.
PACES builds local capacity by training leaders in the community as coaches to deliver its sport programs in Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. Our programs are well designed led by trained and competent coaches. Not only do our programs provide a fun, healthy and educational alternatives to the children enrolled; they have also created employment opportunities for hundreds of coaches.
We believe that providing children from refugee camps and marginalised communities a fun and healthy alternative to being in their homes and/or on the streets can make an immense difference in advancing their general well-being, their physical and social development, and help them develop into productive adults in the future.
At PACES we are committed to the following key objectives:
- To provide girls and boys with a healthy, fun and safe after-school activity.
- Encouraging positive behavioural change by teaching the children the importance of respect, commitment, teamwork, sportsmanship, and ethics, in a fun non-traditional context.
- Improving the health and well-being of the children by getting them involved in physical activity and teaching them healthy behaviours.
- Building the capacity of coaches, honing their skills and widening their participation base in their communities and making them mentors and role models for our children.
- To empower girls and women through sports.
- To promote sports as an important part of the community's social fabric.
Our starting point was the football pitches and basketball courts where we launched our first programs in November of 2006 for over 400 children in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ramallah and since then our reach for children has been expanding. As of 2013 we have expanded to a total of around 5,500 children enrolled in our program in Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon and we continue to grow our reach.
PACES’ after-school program uses football, basketball and volleyball training sessions as a vehicle to impart important life skills to children. Our program is concentrated in and around the most marginalized communities, refugee camps and remote villages across Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon reaching the most vulnerable and needy children between the ages of seven and sixteen.
For the 2014 program cycle we aim to have 7,000 children enrolled across Palestine; Jordan and Lebanon.