Paidia International Development

Organization Description: 

When Paidia’s founder, Erich Strehl came to Israel to study, he spent time going in and out of the West Bank. After seeing first-hand so many of the problems that exist in this area, such as young boys throwing stones at soldiers and soldiers firing back with tear gas and rubber bullets, he began asking locals about the problems. Their answers seemed overly simple, "the kids have nothing to do, so they go to the soldiers and cause problems". According to most of the locals, there were no parks, playgrounds or activities for the youth to be involved in.
Soon after the idea began to develop to use the medium of recreation to teach educational values. Knowing that recreation as a medium for education had been extremely successful in both Europe and America, with participants ranging from corporations to inner city gangs, Erich began to consult with local leaders in the Palestinian community to find out the major issues. Non-violence, conflict resolution, as well as more traditional leadership principles such as communication and decision-making skills were all high on the list. He then went back to the US and consulted with experts in the experiential education field to develop a curriculum based around these needed values.

With this, Paidia International Development was born. The word Paidia comes from the Greek word used by the ancient philosopher Plato to describe the most ideal method for educating youth. Plato believed that the most effective way of teaching a child is through properly guided play or what he called, Paidia.

The center point of Paidia’s programs became what we call Paidia’s Global Leadership Program. The curriculum teaches vital educational values such as non-violence, conflict resolution and integrity all through an engaging medium of adventure recreation. The program then mobilizes the students back into the community in order to put their education into action. This new three-tiered model was dubbed E.R.M. or Education, Recreation, Mobilization and has become the framework for nearly all of Paidia’s programs.

Paidia also works within the Palestinian Christian community. In this program, called Living Branches, Paidia develops young Palestinian Christian leaders and helps them identify what it means to live out and share their faith in a predominantly non-Christian context.

PO Box 6037
Grand Rapids, MI 00000
Mission Statement: 

Paidia exists to engage individuals, especially youth, in ethical leadership development empowering them to transform themselves and their communities.

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Recreation, Sports, Leisure, Athletics
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Amateur Sports Competitions
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