Our 10th Annual Great Lakes PeaceJam Youth Conference
This spring we were so proud to welcome Nobel Laureate, Mrs. Rigoberta Menchu Tum to Michigan to join over 200 youth from the region in a weekend long celebration of their experiences with PeaceJam.
At our 10th Annual Youth Conference, we were so moved to hear from so many young people how much violence - both physical and emotional - they encounter in their daily lives. Inspired by the story of Rigoberta Menchu Tum in Guatemala who find non-violent ways to combat that hate and discrimination in her country that led to the murder of most of her family, our PeaceJam Clubs created beautiful service learning projects to change their corner of the world. A few examples include:
Euclid High School Mediators – PeaceJam students regularly engage their peers as conflict mediators, using a six-step process and nonviolent communication techniques to teach students to break the cycle of violence; they are in dialogue with the larger community to build awareness and conflict resolution skills; and providing support to victims of violence and people who have lost a loved one due to violence. Euclid, OH.
Mattawan High School- Youth worked with teachers to tutor their peers to fight ignorance, oppression, violence, and bullying; worked with youth in their school to build their confidence to do better in school, and to understand how an individual's actions and decisions create a ripple effect. Mattawan, MI.
South Side Community Center – This group focused their efforts on fighting gang violence. They began by surveying their peers to determine the level of violence youth experience in the community. The results of this survey were they disseminated in the school community to find ways to create change. Lansing, MI.
St. Peters School – These PeaceJammers are working with 7-12 graders to break the cycle of violence in their community by encouraging all students to sign a peace pledge, celebrating World Peace Day in May, hosting a blue ribbon campaign to fight child abuse, and raising funds and awareness to fight human trafficking in the U.S. Mansfield, OH.
These projects were so inspirational, and highlighted the potential that our youth have to create positive change. With the support of donors like you, we would never be able to provide this programming throughout the Great Lakes region.
This Youth Conference was particularly moving with individual youth sharing their stories of struggle with the Nobel Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu Tum. Some stories stood out more than others. A young exchange student from Pakistan talked about how terrified she was that she would be killed when she came to study in the United States, one young man told a story of he and his girlfriend being harassed because they are an inter-racial couple, and perhaps most striking were the number of youth who said that their PeaceJam club was the only place that they felt completely accepted and safe.
Please help us to support these youth in making their own live safer, and in empowering youth to stand-up to all kinds of intolerance that they face.
We thank you for your interest and generous support!
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