Community solutions to violence will be the topic for discussion when approximately 200 high-school-aged youth convene on the William Woods University campus for the Heartland PeaceJam Youth Conference with Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams.
This two-day conference, running Nov. 14-15, will bring together youth from across the Heartland region (Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and parts of Iowa) to report on community service projects, attend workshops and discuss reactions to Williams’ talk.
PeaceJam is an international education program built around leading Nobel Peace Laureates who work personally with youth to pass on the spirit, skills and wisdom they embody. The goal is to inspire a new generation of peacemakers who will transform their local communities, themselves and the world.
As part of the conference, the youth, along with volunteers from across Missouri and the Humanity for Children/Rwanda Community Partnership will construct a mock refugee camp. The camp, which will remain intact for the remainder of the week for the general public to tour, will bring to life the conditions of children living in refugee camps in Rwanda.
All proceeds raised from tours of the camp will go towards the Callaway to Kibungo community partnership to continue efforts to build a medical clinic in Kibungo, Rwanda.
During the PeaceJam weekend, students will also have the opportunity to take part in team- building games with youth from other high schools and become engaged in workshops promoting leadership skills and alternatives to violence. The main feature of the conference will be a discussion with Williams.
Williams won the Nobel Peace prize jointly with Máiread Corrigan-Maguire in 1976 for their creation of Community of Peace People, an organization dedicated to promoting an end to violence during the troubles of Northern Ireland. She continues to work today as president of World Centre of Compassion for Children, as well as with the Nobel Women’s Initiative.
Past laureates who have attended PeaceJam events at William Woods University include Rigoberta Menchú Tum and Jody Williams, both of whom received honorary degrees from William Woods.