10 August 2018 - "Can anyone tell me why Dana succeeded in this exercise?" asks Randa, a summer camp instructor, to the 20 young girls still catching their breath from the last sports activity. A few of them enthusiastically raise their hands: "She did not lose her self-control," says one girl; "She was persistent," adds another.
It is precisely this lesson that Randa is hoping will be absorbed by the young people attending a two-week summer camp at Qalandia Village, near Ramallah. It is here that Randa has been implementing a range of sports activities for Palestinian youth aged 13 to 18 to help them develop their life skills and better cope with daily challenges to stay away from violence and crime.
Prior to the opening of the summer camps, Randa was part of a group of 26 instructors in the State of Palestine trained by UNODC, in close cooperation with the Higher Council for Youth and Sport. Their training focused on an evidence-informed life skills curriculum, Line Up, Live Up, that builds on the power of sport as a vehicle for positive change. Over three days, the training focused on how to provide positive experiences to both boys and girls through sport, such as a sense of belonging, loyalty and support, and to strengthen their resilience to crime and drugs. The 26 summer camps instructors were provided with a specific UNODC-developed manual which contains 10 sessions carefully designed to target a specific set of life skills, including critical thinking, resisting peer pressure, coping with anxiety, and communicating effectively with others.
UNODC's Line Up Live Up initiative has been formulated in a way that promotes positive changes in relationships by encouraging collaboration, understanding, and tolerance between participants from diverse backgrounds. To teach this, one of the activities that Randa implemented encourages young people to find their own skills and cherish their strengths, in order to cope with stress and negative emotions.
The group divided into teams that go through challenges around four themes - speed, power, intellect and persistence - and through the debriefing session that followed, the young Palestinian participants discussed how to discover and rely on their strengths and those of their team to succeed. "They might all have unexpected strengths that become clear only when they have an opportunity to use them," noted Randa. "They will identify them through the activity and can rely on them in real-life." As one of the summer camp participants said, "I am learning about myself and my friends while doing sports."
Under the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration, UNODC is using sport to empower young people and to strengthen their life skills to make positive changes in their own lives and their communities. This is key for development at an age when many youth may face challenges that make them vulnerable to crime, violence or drug use. To further this in the State of Palestine, UNODC is looking to deliver additional Line Up, Live Up training during the course of 2018, in partnership with the Higher Council for Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Education. These will target school teachers, as well as provide support for the training roll out by the trained coaches to reach additional young Palestinians in selected schools in the West Bank.