Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Practice makes Peace

Project #
Colgate University
  • Jen Rusciano

Detroit is the most segregated city in the United States,with one of the highest high school dropout rates, reportedto be near 75%. Extensive poverty, failed schools, and lackof opportunity leave young people with few opportunities orskills to build a better future for themselves or for their city.Jen Rusciano decided to put her energies and a Projects forPeace grant toward an effort to model a program with a realchance to teach lifelong skills—ones important on and off theplaying field.

Practice Makes Peace paired over 125 elementary andmiddle school students (“little buddies”) with more than 120high school volunteers (“big buddies”) in a five-week summercamp program designed to use the fun of sports to teachconflict resolution skills. The camp sessions took place in oneschool in a predominantly African American communityand in another school setting in a primarily Latin Americancommunity. Camp took place four days a week, and camperswere taught skills used in a variety of sports ranging fromsoccer and football to basketball and tennis. Campersbenefitted from specific sport skills building, but, evenmore importantly, they learned life skills such as teamwork,leadership, communication, health and wellness, problemresolution, and sportsmanship. The “big buddies” reaped asmuch as their charges, as they, too, learned important life skillsin conflict resolution, leadership, and communication. And theygained significant insights into the challenges facing their city.

Practice Makes Peace was an overwhelming successand, as a result, has been formally incorporated into thesummer program to be offered in Detroit in 2010 and,hopefully, well beyond.