ECYG Warri Promoting Culture of Tolerance, Nonviolence, and Peace

Ogaga Maxwell, coordinator of the Earth Charter Youth Group Warri (ECYG Warri) was a Nigerian Delegate to attend Generations for Peace Camp in Amman, Jordan November 2008. This was Jordan’s second International Training Camp and brought 71 youth leaders from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Lesotho, Togo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Jordan and Sudan – all regions that are suffering of varying levels of conflicts. These youth leaders were nominated by the UN, the UNDP, National Olympic Committees, the British Council, local NGOs and Ministries of Youth, Sport and Education.

Generations for Peace identifies and brings together youth leaders from divided communities around the world and trains them on to use the power of sport to unite children and youth from all sides of their divides. A key element of the programme is to train leaders to be able to cascade the programme in their own countries, in other words to train the trainers to train more trainers and instructors.

But why to use sports as a tool in peace building? Sport is a universal language; it brings people together and breaks barriers. It is a form of physical education and through sports young people’s energy can be rightly channeled. By participating in sports the young people learn the ideals of teamwork and tolerance. In addition sports have had a significant meaning in peace building throughout centuries.

Sports Skills 4 Peace
Ogaga Maxwell from ECYG Warri has already started to use these newly learned skills to re-launch the local Earth Charter Youth Group with a Sports Skills 4 Peace -project that is currently taking place in a city of Sapele. The project is funded by the Youth Action for Change. Sports Skills 4 Peace is aimed at bringing peace to Niger Delta, one student at a time. The 33 participants were selected from 5 schools. The project has been endorsed by the Local Ministry of Education.

The project will consist of capacity building workshops in peace building, conflict resolution and management and sporting sessions. As a part of the project, Ogaga Maxwell introduces the Earth Charter to the students and school counselors. In his session, Ogaga concentrates in the 16th Eath Charter principle “Promoting a culture of tolerance, nonviolence, and peace”. Specifically he emphasizes the sub-principle 16.b. ”Implement comprehensive strategies to prevent violent conflict and use collaborative problem solving to manage and resolve environmental conflicts and other disputes.” The aim is to form to these secondary schools Peace Clubs and a new Earth Charter Youth Group. Ogaga stresses that ECYGs can play a meaningful role in the peace process in Niger Delta.

In addition to this, the ECYG Warri is going to organize an essay competition during the next semester in these same five schools. In addition ECYG Warri will facilitate an Earth Charter Workshop on non-violence.