Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spring Into A Peaceful Summer

Little Friends for Peace cherishes our new friends and expanded peace community as we close our school year programs and herald in our summer camps with trainings and gatherings. We are thrilled to have started building relationships with new volunteers and folks from the Sibley Plaza (DC) and Riverdale, MD communities. We continue to be heartened by our ongoing partnership activities, like our recent Peace Train visit to Pax Christi’s Memorial Day Vigil, praying that war can end so we will not have to remember lives lost to war. We’ve been honored to offer staff retreats for our partners at Perry School Youth Development and Maryland United for Peace and Justice. We always enjoy engaging our Peace Camp Leaders from UUCA and other sites across the metro area in preparation for the upcoming summer programming. So, as the warmer days approach, we are reflecting on our spring sproutings of peace seeds, even as we prepare for our busy summer season.

Join us in looking back and contact us to get involved as we move forward!

LFFP hearts Volunteers
LFFP recently held a Summer Kick-Off at the Peace Oasis. A garden delight potluck was enjoyed on the porch as volunteers mixed and mingled. It was a beautiful evening in which the sun set slowly enough for all to enjoy games and hikes after dinner. It was great getting to know new volunteers and reconnecting with others, even as we missed the folks who couldn’t make it. Still, we look forward to making the circle bigger with ongoing volunteer appreciation events throughout the summer!

Career Day
Mt. Rainier Elementary recently invited MJ to speak about her experiences as a Peace Teacher. MJ visited three classrooms spanning first, second, and fifth grades. The children really responded to hearing about all of the ways that MJ teaches children to solve problems through play and activities. It was a fun morning with lots of positive responses.

Peace Kids Visit the Youth Garden at the Arboretum in DC
The Perry Peace Kids enjoyed visiting DC’s Youth Garden where they were introduced to various fruits, vegetables and plants. Not only was it enriching to be surrounded by the flora, but it was also educational to learn about the care required for each variation. The children all participated in a game to pick out the colors in the garden by identifying plants and explaining something it does. For example, a child for whom orange caught his or her or eye might have pointed out a carrot which helps with vision. It was a fun day reinforcing the benefits of nature and discovering the sources of healthy nourishment, particularly when the children got to sample some garden treats including unfamiliar foods like the kavas!

LFFP’s First Family Peace-Building Event at the Hispanic Center in Riverdale
Over the spring MJ has been weekly visiting with children in Riverdale, Md. It has been a rich semester full of peace classes, getting to know our newest Peace Kids and introducing them to fun experiences learning and practicing peace skills. In early June, MJ invited the children’s parents for their first Peace Workshop. It was very special to hear what brings the families peace and what takes away their peace. Then, the group of families enjoyed talking, walking, and biking together as community was built through activity. The day ended with everyone sharing their dreams for a peaceful summer and looking forward to continuing to develop the new relationships sprouted that day.

Special Thanks to Helen for Spreading Peace Camp Opportunities
From a desire to send Torture and Survivor’s Support Coalition (TASSC) members' children to LFFP’s Summer Peace Camp, Helen took the initiative to ask. It all started when she found funding from among her friends for one survivor's children—he's been here for several years, but his wife and 3 children just arrived 3 weeks ago and they need to meet other children. So, she thought of MJ and Jerry and their organization that offers memorable experiences of practicing conflict resolution and cooperation amongst peers. Then, it occurred to her that there are many more kids who would benefit from Peace Camp, so she approached TASSC with a positive response that the coalition will be able to sponsor two more children. Wanting more children to learn how to cooperate with each other and solve problems peacefully, she then reached out to her wider networks and faith communities to raise money. We are so excited to welcome the TASSC children into our camper community and grateful to Helen for sparking this wonderful idea. To learn more about Peace Camps, see http://www.lffp.org/. To contribute, mail camper fees directly to LFFP at 4405 29th St., Mt. Rainier MD, 20712 or donate online. Either way, be sure to designate your contribution for TASSC Campers.

Intergenerational Sharing, Caring and Love in the Peace Room
Seniors from the Christian Community Group Home visited the Peace Room at Perry School to enjoy Peace Café with the Peace Kids. The Peace Kids kicked off the evening by reciting the Peace Pledge and singing their Peace Songs for the seniors. Then, the entire group shared in the process of preparing the Peace Meal by cutting up pineapple, making tuna salad, and churning homemade ice cream together. Amidst music, chatter, and laughter, everyone then enjoyed the healthy treats together. Afterwards, the entire group performed in a talent show. Ms. L wowed us with her dance, Mr. Guy sang a beautiful song, and the peace kids entertained the crowd with cheers and dancing. It was a great intergenerational activity and so good to see the children sharing their skills with each other and their special guests.

Mt. Rainier Youth Shares Gap Year Experience with Mt. Rainier Peace Clubbers
Personally, Therese seeks peace by becoming aware of other species around us, learning to care for them, living in harmony together, and refusing to kill animals for consumption and profit. She recently made peace by volunteering at a New Zealand zoo to benefit animals with a friendly and helpful spirit. She shared this experience with the Mt. Rainier Peace Clubbers through a slide show of pictures, showing the children where she was, some chores she worked on, and the many animals for whom she was caring. Throughout the presentation, she offered facts about the exotic animals as well as stories from her first-hand experience with them. She also talked about how she met new people in a foreign country and talked with them at length about cultural differences and similarities. Through her experience, she broadened her perspective by learning new and compelling points of view. Furthermore, she described how the zoo was very supportive of sustainability and conservation. They donate to several animal rescue programs and each day they publicized various stewardship topics—like reduce, reuse, recycle—to the zoo’s visitors.

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