There has long been talk about “oh, how much we can learn from children about life,” etc. This is true, to be sure. However, if we don’t model good behavior, their perspectives may not be as bright and shiny as they could be. They mirror what they see. I mean, no child is born a racist. Hunger, fear, education — or lack thereof — contribute to many troubling social issues.
To teach and foster characteristics that might make the world a better place, the Peace Leaders Program — paxis.org/about — was established by Dr. Dennis Embry many years ago. He presented and brought this program to Cambria Grammar School in 1998. I personally feel it is one of the most beneficial ideas given to our kids in my history in this town. While teachers oversee and guide Peace Leaders, our children are who make it run.
Peace Pole dedication
Tuesday, June 7, at 8:30 a.m., you are all invited to a dedication ceremony at the Grammar School to dedicate a grand project, the installation of a Peace Pole in front of the multipurpose room.
Peace Poles are internationally recognized symbols of “the hopes and dreams of the entire human family, standing vigil for peace on Earth.” There are thousand of them around the world bearing the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” (www.peacepoles.com)
The Peace Pole Project was started in Japan by Masahisa Goi (1916-1980), who dedicated his life to spreading the message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” Mr. Goi was greatly affected by the destruction caused by World War II and the atomic bombs which fell on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Peace Leaders Program is based on the belief that academic achievement and school safety will improve with a positive common language that encourages respect and personal responsibility.
What does that look like?
Fifth-graders take turns as being leaders, first off, everybody has a chance to lead — we all have something to offer, and we all need to feel needed and important.
During the school week, teachers, staff and fellow students who are on the lookout for someone “doing good” issue a slips for good behavior (helping someone, picking up trash, etc.). Those students who receive the slips are recognized publicly at the school assembly every Friday morning. Each child has an opportunity to be encouraged for doing what is right instead of just always having to sit in the principal’s office.
Students brainstorm activities, plan and publicize them. Activities are as diverse as honoring Road to Recovery riders, celebrating healthy choices for Red Ribbon Week or making posters with ideas for kid-friendly ways they can help prevent bullying.
In fact, Peace Leaders gather ideas from other programs like Teaching Tolerance to grow our own offering. And, now, they have a monument to their purpose: the Peace Pole.
Local landscaper Shana McCormick designed the garden, Cambria Nursery is graciously providing the plants at cost, Dennis White of Cambria Tree Service donated a large load of chips and district employees, Lee Wright and David Bidwell, have been a major support in this effort.
If you’ve had the pleasure of attending a school board meeting where Peace Leaders presented their reports or even better, attended a rally on any Friday at the Grammar School, you will hear them recite their pledge:
“I am a Cambria Peace Leader
I better my world and I better me
I honor good acts, offer help and stop harm and blame
I make amends and rejoin the game
I find trusted guides to show me the way
I strive to improve a little each day
I am proud to be a Peace Leader at school, at home/ in the world and at play”
Hmmmm, tolerance, celebrating diversity, cultural awareness, anti-bullying strategies … these sound like lessons many adults I hear and read about should learn. It’s one big circle, isn’t it? Start them young: Perhaps there is hope for the world! Thank you, Peace Leaders of all ages.
Dianne Brooke’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website at www.ladytiedi.com.