"I personally feel that Play for Peace should be everywhere – even though their focus is in conflict areas. When I look back at my experiences in life here in Canada, I feel that if there had been an organization like this, I wouldn’t have had to make the choices that I did. In my mind, every community, everywhere, could benefit from Play for Peace." - Amanda Cook, Play for Peace volunteer
Today we’d like to share the story of one of our volunteers who has become central to Play for Peace's Compassion Games efforts. Last September, Amanda Cook of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, joined the Play For Peace
team. Growing up, Amanda moved around, living in various cities around Western Canada. Before settling in Red Deer, she lived in Nanaimo, Banff, Jasper, and even backpacked through Southern Mexico. A mature student, Amanda now attends Red Deer College in Alberta, and happily studies social work.
With the exception of a few exams in the coming weeks, she just finished her first year. When asked why she chose social work, I could hear Amanda smile:
“It just seemed like a natural fit – I struggled with addiction for a long time, on and off for about nineteen years. Despite this, I was a functioning addict: I always did well in school, and held jobs. A couple years back, when I had gotten clean and decided to change my life, I knew that I needed to take on a new challenge, a healthy one. Social work just made sense. People naturally feel comfortable opening up to me. Coupled with my life experience, this felt right.”
Amanda went on to share her life experience and her love of learning with me: the instructors at her new school are great, and a lot of the inspiring, hands-on experience comes from her work with PFP; in particular, from Imroz Shaw
and Sarah Gough
. Seeing other people out in the field, making a difference, brings her academic knowledge to life. “I love seeing the Play for Peace influence - how they connect with different communities and how their relationships are built. It really connects a lot with my program.”
Indeed, her academic program was how she learned of Play for Peace: she began with us as an intern, part of her first-year practicum requirements. An internship with Play for Peace was actually a new option for students. Amanda already facilitates a support group as an addictions volunteer, and so a remote position was a means to make global connections without sacrificing any face-to-face time. The other plus was not having to commute in the Alberta winter, which was, Amanda recalls, surprisingly mild this year!
The internship took place from September 2015 to April 2016. The timing was perfect for starting the Compassion Games
. In 2015, Play for Peace began working with Compassion Games International in time for their December Giving Games. This is an organization that promotes acts of kindness and compassion on a global level. As Amanda notes, “It was an inspiring focus throughout my internship and what a great gift to have. I feel very lucky.” Indeed, for two full days a week, Amanda was devoted to helping our relationship with Compassion Games International
grow. Although her internship has ended, she has stayed on as the Compassion Games Coordinator.
Having always been interested in global issues, Amanda is particularly attracted to the international scope of Play for Peace. "I personally feel that Play for Peace should be everywhere – even though their focus is in conflict areas. When I look back at my experiences in life here in Canada, I feel that if there had been an organization like this, I wouldn’t have had to make the choices that I did. In my mind, every community, everywhere, could benefit from Play for Peace.” Indeed, Amanda uses Play for Peace as much as possible in her everyday life. In her family life, she is conscious that everyone is included, invited and heard. When facilitating a support group, she does the same thing: making sure that everyone is included, and that, even though serious issues are being discussed, there is a little bit of fun in every meeting. This, she says, can make a deep impact to people who are struggling.
Thank you Amanda, for all your work!