William Woods University will be helping to send nearly 50 youth from Missouri and Kansas to Denver, Colo., as part of the PeaceJam 10th Anniversary Conference for youth on Sept. 16-17.
Participants will include students from Fulton High School, Bailey Alternative High School in Springfield, Belton High School, the CODE Program at Hickman Mills School District in Kansas City and Olathe South High School in Olathe Kan.
Even before being named the PeaceJam headquarters for the Heartland Region in the summer of 2006, William Woods made it possible for numerous high school students to attend the Denver conference by hosting the Heartland Region PeaceJam Slam event in April.
The Denver Celebration will be the largest gathering of Nobel Peace Prize winners to ever assemble in the United States. The activities include concerts and dance parties, group work and many speakers. The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu will deliver the Laureates’ Global Call to Action on Sept. 16. It will be broadcast to more than 270 million households internationally by BBC World.
The Heartland Region of PeaceJam serves the youth in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, and the organization operates with the collaboration of WWU students, faculty, staff and partners. At two conference events annually, WWU students serve as group mentors for the youth, and the program gives high school students an opportunity to spend time on a college campus.
PeaceJam serves to connect the lives of high school students to those of Nobel Peace Prize winners, such as the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It is a year-long international education program built around passing on the spirit, skills and wisdom of peacemakers to the youth of today.
Scott Miniea, who is the affiliate director at WWU, said of these famous peacemakers, “They are average people who did something extraordinary. And there is a lesson to be learned in that.”
PeaceJam’s goal is to impart that lesson to the youth.
This year at William Woods, a PeaceJam Slam will be held on Oct. 20 to introduce a new group of youth to the PeaceJam program. At this event, the students and their teachers will learn which Nobel Laureate they will be studying for 2006-2007.
Following the PeaceJam Slam in October, participants will return to their own communities to put into practice what they have learned. They will participate in service-learning projects throughout the year that make use of the lessons learned from studying Nobel Laureates. When they meet again at WWU for the PeaceJam Youth Conference, they will present their work to an actual Nobel Laureate.
While in Missouri, this Laureate, whose identity has yet to be announced, will also give a talk at the University of Missouri in Columbia. The talk will be free and open to the public, and is sponsored jointly by WWU and MU.
Miniea expects the PeaceJam events to benefit both the William Woods students and the high school participants.
“William Woods students have the opportunity to serve the greater community through PeaceJam activities and service-learning projects, while learning valuable academic curriculum and leadership skills,” he said.
Katie Finley, a WWU junior from St. Charles, Mo., was drawn to PeaceJam because she is an education major. She saw her experience as a PeaceJam group mentor as another way to work with students and hone her leadership skills.
“It was such an amazing experience and it really allowed me to make a difference with the youth,” she said. “The younger participants got out of PeaceJam the ability to converse with other people on a deeper level. They also developed the ability of being able to think about the future and how their actions and thoughts of today are really able affect the future either positively or negatively.”