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Faiths and Cultures from Around the World Bridge
the Divide at Beyond Sport

Beyond Sport
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One of the most diverse gatherings of people from different faiths and cultures to discuss peace-building through sport will come together in suburban Philadelphia on September 10, 2013. Beyond Sport and Neumann University are collaborating to stage the first edition of Beyond the Divide, a daylong conference about using sport to build understanding, as part of the Beyond Sport Summit 2013.


The event, designed to explore how sports can address conflict, reduce ignorance and bridge religious divides, will feature world-leading projects that have worked to bring together people of different faiths and cultures in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Cambodia, providing shining examples of how sport can create a context for more peaceful existence. Representatives from Israel, Palestine, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, UK, South Africa, Philippines, Colombia, Laos, Sierra Leone, Australia and Liberia will also play a key role in the day’s sessions.


Brian Dawkins
Brian Dawkins
photo courtesy of Hunter Martin

Philadelphia Eagles legend Brian Dawkins will speak at the close of the event.


Oliver Percovich, executive director of Skateistan, a program in Afghanistan that uses skateboarding as a hook to provide young people of different ethnicities and faiths with opportunities to work and learn together, added: "When you take part in any sport, your mind shifts to a different consciousness. Any prejudice and judgment of others is replaced by the concentration and support required to not fall off the board, or to kick the ball, or fall out of bounds. I have witnessed first-hand in Kabul how sport can produce powerful bonds. Hard set prejudice is so often born from ignorance of others but through the distinctive characteristics of sport, we have the opportunity to express our commonality and bridge division.”


The event, held at Neumann University’s site in Aston, Delaware County, is being staged as part of the Beyond Sport Summit & Awards in Philadelphia, which will run from September 9-11, 2013, and will see teams, leagues and organizations from around the globe come together to explore the role of sports in social change.


Nick Keller, founder of Beyond Sport, said: "Beyond The Divide will allow us to take lessons from projects working in some of the most hostile conditions on earth and learn how to bring those insights into communities across America and the western world. Religious divides have never taken up more column inches or global airtime than they do today, and sports can play an invaluable role in bringing our different communities together."


Dr. Rosalie Mirenda, president of Neumann University, added: “The University is home to the Institute for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development, which we founded in 1999. The Institute is committed to the belief that sport possesses an inescapable spiritual and ethical dimension. Exploring the uses of sport to build peace and raise awareness about our shared humanity is a noble cause that is perfectly matched to Neumann’s values.”


Beyond Sport, whose global partners include Barclays, TIME, Unicef and ESPN, is a global initiative that seeks to celebrate and support any organization or individual with the goal to drive positive social change through sport.


For further information on the Beyond Sport Awards, future announcements surrounding Summit speakers and agenda, or to register for the Beyond Sport Summit visit  


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