Break the Ice works for the reconciliation and reintegration of children who have been forced to flee from their home towns. It was established in 2014 as a reaction to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine that affected hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children. The organisations' initial projects were designed with the cooperation and support of the NHL.
The organisation focuses mainly on:
- Teaching nonviolent communication, tolerance, life skills and building relations in a peaceful manner
- The integration of conflict-affected children into communities
- The creation of peace in community
Programs and activities
Through various sport activities, Break the Ice tries to improve the psychological and physical health of children as well as the quality of their lives by influencing children, parents, facilitators and volunteers and thus building peace in the community. It offers financially and emotionally challenged children from 5 to 12 years old the opportunity to learn life skills, overcome stress and establish a peaceful way of solving conflict through participating in on- and off-ice activities.
The Break the Ice initiative leverages the hockey as a vehicle to achieve the goals of the program using the core values of the sport: commitment, perseverance and teamwork. Children are offered a peaceful and safe space where they can learn, play and develop as well as strengthen resiliency.
In order to integrate children and facilitate inter-group dialogue, with a grant from the U.S Embassy in Kyiv, Break the Ice arranged several hockey table tournaments in Eastern Ukraine (Dnipropetrovsk and Maryupol) and also in Kyiv for both children from IDP families and the local community. Since 2015 more that 1,000 children benefited from the table-hockey tournaments supported by the Federation of Hockey Table of Ukraine, Palace of Sport, and the Ministry of Youth and Sport. Tournaments are held in Donetsk and Luhanks oblasts on a regular basis to ensure a long lasting peacebuilding effect.
Another initiative includes on- and off-ice hockey activities and trainings in the Palace of Sport in Kyiv where IDP and local children can communicate and build relationships under the guidance of trainers and facilitators. NHL Players' Association donated hockey equipment for children from youth hockey school 'Sokol' (Kyiv), and female hockey club 'Ukrainochka' (Kyiv) to enable such initiative. Break the Ice's future plans are to raise funds for girls-focused programs, roll out table hockey tournaments further East as well as organise workshop for parents on children's integration and resiliency building.