Sep 8, 2011, 11:32 AM EDT
Jeb Brovsky plays midfield for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a major league soccer team based in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also is the founder of Peace Pandemic, an organization that uses youth soccer camps to teach nonviolence and promote social justice.
Jeb founded Peace Pandemic as a junior at the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in business management and peace studies, pursued a concentration in entrepreneurship, and played varsity soccer. While taking the peace studies course “Peacemaking in Divided Societies,” taught by Kroc Institute professor John Darby, he learned about the thousands of children in war-torn countries who are forced to become soldiers.
“This touched my heart, and I wanted to react in a positive way,” says Jeb, a native of Lakewood, Colorado. “I eventually realized I could use soccer as a new avenue for peace.”
Peace Pandemic organizes soccer camps across North America, using the funds it generates to coordinate rotating camps in conflict-affected countries. The organization’s first international camp will take place in Tanzania in fall 2011, and a camp has been scheduled in Israel for 2012. In the future, Jeb hopes to coordinate Peace Pandemic camps in Guatemala, Nepal, and Nicaragua.
“Soccer is a boundary crosser,” he says. “In nearly every country, kids on the street are playing this game and they respond to this game.” Peace Pandemic camps aim to get kids excited about the game, but also to teach them about resolving conflict nonviolently and being responsible members of their homes and communities, Jeb says.
Jeb became interested in peace after being exposed to violence as a child. On the day of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, he was a fourth-grade student at the elementary school next door to the high school. Four of Jeb’s neighbors, including his next-door neighbor, were killed that day.
“Trying make sense of that experience was very difficult, but it made me want to change my surroundings for the better,” Jeb says.
As he launches his soccer career, Jeb plans to use his professional athlete status as a tool for social change.
“Athletes have a lot of pull in their communities,” Jeb says. “It would be foolish of me not to take advantage of that for a good reason.
“It’s been my dream to get to this level – and to blend my passion for soccer with my passion for peace.”
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