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PEACE in Action

A Peace Room and A Peace Train


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SPOTLIGHT on Peacemakers
A Peace Room and A Peace Train

[Editor's Note: We are pleased to present below information on the work of the Little Friends of Peace: part of a letter we received in November 2000 describing a Peace Room activity; a report in September 2003 about a Peace Room in a different setting; more information on the Peace Room; and a Peace Train presentation.]

Gandhi said: "We have to be the change we want to see."

Opening the Peace Room one mile north of the Capitol Building was our way of stepping into the new millennium. It is our day-to-day laboratory in a high-violence neighborhood for finding the approaches that work best to prevent violence.

In the after-school program of the Perry School Community Services Center, we train college students to lead activities with the 6 to 8 and 9 to 12 year-old children that explore the experience of peace, dramatize the peace heroes, sing the peace songs, and practice the skills of peace.

During school hours I join teachers to involve the children in cooperative games, songs, and rituals that celebrate peacemaking and peacemakers. We also discuss times in their lives when peace is hard to find and how we can find it.

Our Peace Room welcomes Home School groups and groups from other schools. The formula we use is simple: Answer the Violence with Skills of Peace! Start with Self, Learn about Peacemakers, Learn Practical Steps to Solving Conflicts, Empower and Encourage Children to Do One Thing for Peace each day.

Campers have said:

  • You opened the Peace Room so we can learn how to solve our problems peacefully.
  • I like using my hands for loving and not hurting.
  • My grandmother is a peacemaker because she helps me.
  • I'm learning that it is not nerdy to be a peacemaker. It is cool.
  • She broke my peace. But we stopped. Then we worked it out.

How can we tell the children that they can't do violence unless we show them a force more powerful than violence? The United Nations (UN) has declared this the "International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World." Let's demonstrate Nonviolence and give the Skills of Nonviolence. Let's make Peacemaking cool, acceptable, and fun.

A SECOND PEACE ROOM

"Come and Delight in the Ways of Peace," reads the sign on the door of the Peace Room at Saint Bernard's Elementary School in Riverdale, MD. When you enter this room, across the hall from the school office, you feel like taking off your shoes. It invites you to quiet as you observe on the walls a banner of planet Earth accompanied by a pledge of allegiance to the Earth. A peacemaker's wall is covered with pictures and accounts of peacemaking heroes through the ages.

On a table next to a plant is a mini-sandbox for raking shiny pebbles among the grains of sand. A labyrinth waits at another table for a visitor to roll a marble around its loops. A tall mirror hangs beneath the sign, "Peace Begins with Me."

A reading nook lets you pick up a poem, a peacemaker biography, or some cooperative, winwin games to teach your students or teacher. A computer lets you link with peacemakers around the country and around the world, check out resources and publish your own, or advertise your peace club's events.

This Peace Room is the dream of Mary Joan Park who founded Little Friends for Peace with her husband Jerry in 1981 to build a hopeful future by training children and their caregivers in the skills of nonviolence. They started, and continue with, week-long day camps. But the teacher in her said, "peacemaking skills need to be elevated to a fullfledged subject to be taught and caught by the faculty and students -- to the point that it transforms the whole culture of the school and radiates out into the community."

Now she has her chance to pursue that dream. She teaches peace to each class every week, either in the Peace Room or in their classroom (or even in the gym!). The teachers have been the first to express their delight in the Peace Room. They will be the key in making their school a Peace School.

Profile of the PEACE ROOM

FOCUS:
Peace
Peacemakers
Problem Solving Skills
Peacemaking Ideas
GOALS:
Become a more Peaceful Person
Learn about Peacemakers, and role-play their methods
Learn some skills for Conflict Resolving & practice them
Role-Play being a Peacemaker
METHODS:
Large Group Presentations - Teaching
Journal - worksheets
Drama - stories
Art Projects
Co-operative Games
Music - singing - movement
Best Reference for Content: Creating a Peace Experience by MJ Park

M.J. and Jerry Park invite you to link your efforts with theirs to make peacemaking cool, acceptable, and fun by: (1) bringing your Time or Talent to the Peace Room; (2) recommending them to leaders of programs for children who may want Skills of Nonviolence training; and (3) recommend to them persons or groups who may want to fund their work. They can be contacted at: jpark@capaccess.org or (301) 927-5474 Website: http://www.Lffp.org or www.Lffp.org 52

CREATE AN EPIDEMIC OF ……. PEACE with a PEACE TRAIN

In the wake of the terrorizing events of 9-11, the sniper in the Washington, DC area, and the invasion of Iraq, many of us are waking up to the need for Security from Peacemaking. We are longing to resolve injustices with love and not hate, with cooperation and not retaliation. We are becoming susceptible to an epidemic of Peace. What will that epidemic look like? Symptoms: People will instinctively use their gentle but tough Skills of Nonviolence. Mode of Transmission: Those skills and guidelines for winning without hurting appear on the nine cars of the PEACE TRAIN assembled by Little Friends for Peace, a 22-year-old project of training children and their caregivers. The train cars are made out of cardboard boxes for children to wear in a parade, or a peace march, or a school assembly. � � The first car is STOP, Cool Down. "It's OK to be angry, but it's NOT OK to be mean." Car #2 is LOVE, a time to treasure the other as a person, and convert the fight into a problem to be solved together. "Be all you can be: Love your Enemy!" Car #3 is IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM: what the other does, why it hurts, and your part in causing it too. Car #4 is THINK UP SOLUTIONS that would solve the problem. Car #5 is CHECK FEELINGS of both sides from each solution. Car #6 is LISTEN to each other describe the above that each of you figured out while you were in "stop". 53 � � � Car #7 is AGREE ON A SOLUTION. Car #8 is FORGIVE one another. Car #9 is if the other won't listen, UNITE WITH OTHERS to help the other listen to another perspective; then, if necessary, to frustrate the enemy's violence. The Peace Train has been traveling to schools, churches, preschools, recreation centers, scouts, and after-school programs. Invite MJ & Jerry Park to your station. All aboard ! � � � �



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