Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Perry Children Visit the Peace Oasis

On Tuesday, December 28th Perry Center, Inc.’s Youth Development staff brought some children to MJ & Jerry’s Oasis. Despite the wintry day with brisk air aiding persistent patches of snow, the sun was outshining the cold enough for the bundled up children to select outdoor activities. After a group walk around the grounds, some played together in games of baseball, soccer and frisbee, while others followed Mr. Jerry on a bike ride past nearby cows and sheep. Following these fun exercises of cooperation and fitness, Ms. MJ led the entire group in a nature exercise. She had everyone face the forest in a moment of silence to practice using their senses. Afterwards, each person described what they heard, saw, or smelt, which included birds, the wind, tree roots, the sky, a dog, and branches. Nature’s magnificence is an important stimulant for taking in information, while reflective practice leaves a calming imprint.

Then, some of the children came in the Mother Theresa Room and set up the Peace Train, a human-powered series of cars made out of boxes, each of which contains a step in the process of conflict resolution. At the same time, others went into the Eleanor Roosevelt Library to accomplish “children’s work,” free playing with toys and peace artifacts. Then, play continued as some of the children read age-appropriate books about peace while others put together a singing and dancing show. Afterwards, all of the children gathered upstairs in the Rosa Parks Room. Sitting by the Christmas tree, they heard the story of Wangari. This inspiring woman from Kenya won the Nobel Peace Prize for planting 30 million trees with the help of her village, to whom she paid a fair wage in return for their important eco-work. Following a healthy snack, everyone travelled over to the nearby Colonial Farm to visit a few of the farm animals including Francis the donkey, Mariah the horse, and a few bulls and sheep.

Throughout their Peace Oasis adventure, the children were excited, happy and full of exploratory energy. Their peace experience was rich with opportunities to connect with each other and nature in a safe place designated for sharing and caring.

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