Young People to Meet Nobel Peace Prize Winner at WWU

Nearly 200 young people and their advisors from Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma will have the unique opportunity to interact with a Nobel Peace Prize winner when the second Heartland PeaceJam Youth Conference is held at William Woods University in November.


PeaceJam is an on-going, international education program featuring Nobel Peace Prize winners who work personally with youth to pass on the spirit, skills and wisdom they embody. Through learning about and meeting these master-peacemakers, youth between the ages of 14 and 19 come to realize the truth of “one person making a difference.”


Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum of Guatemala will be the featured Laureate at the conference Nov. 10-11 at William Woods. The theme of the conference is “Ending Racism and Violence.”


Menchú Tum, a Quiché Maya Indian, won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize for her work as a peaceful advocate of native Indian rights in Central America, her leadership for indigenous people around the world and her involvement in the women’s rights movement. She was also the first indigenous female presidential candidate to run in her native country of Guatemala.


Saturday’s activities include a service project that is being planned and coordinated by high school students at Fulton Academy alternative school. PeaceJam participants will work with the Coalition Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARD-V) to build awareness about rape, in addition to other projects.


The project relates to the work of Menchú Tum and the Global Call to Action for the Rights of Women and Children. The project will involve building awareness in Fulton and in participants’ home communities through student-initiated efforts after the conference.


On Sunday, conference participants will attend workshops designed to be interactive, fun and oriented toward skill-building and further exploration of issues relevant to PeaceJam and the Global Call to Action.


Workshop topics include “Service After High School: AmeriCorps 101,” “A Bit of Inconvenient Truth,” “The Immigrant Experience in Missouri,” “Forming a Grassroots Organization to Address a Real Problem” and “Psychic Numbing and Genocide.”


Scott Miniea, PeaceJam affiliate director for the Heartland Region at William Woods University, commented on the impressive growth of the program.


“We have seen a huge increase in the number of trained advisors and their corresponding groups of young people who are studying this important critical thinking curriculum and implementing projects in their communities that relate to some of the same real-world problems that the Nobel Laureates are also addressing,” he said.


“These are young people who are able to identify real world leaders who continue to make an impact on their communities, while many young people have trouble naming a single Nobel Prize winner.”


Advisors for participating youth groups attended a one-day training session in preparation for the upcoming weekend. They represented a number of schools and organizations, all of which are expected to attend PeaceJam and implement the PeaceJam curriculum all year long.


From mid-Missouri: Fulton Academy and Fulton High School, Fulton; Hickman High School and Rock Bridge High School, Columbia; Horizons Laker Educational Center, Camdenton, and Cole Co. R-V High School, Russellville.


From the St. Louis area: St. Louis Community College-Meramec, St. Louis; South Tech High School, Sunset Hills, and Ridgewood Middle School, Arnold, Mo.


From Springfield, Mo.: Bailey Alternative High School.


From the Kansas City, Mo., area: Hickman Mills School District CODE Program and Bethel Neighborhood Center, Kansas City; Independence Academy, Independence; Lee’s Summit West High School and Missouri Service-Learning, Lee’s Summit, and Belton High School, Belton.


From Kansas: Blue Valley Academy, Overland Park; De Soto High School, De Soto; John Dewey Learning Academy, Lecompton; Olathe East High School, Olathe North High School, Olathe Northwest High School and Olathe South High School, Olathe, and Turner High School, Kansas City, Kan.


From Oklahoma: Casady School, Oklahoma City.


For more information on PeaceJam, contact Scott Miniea at (573) 592-1633 or scott.miniea@williamwoods.edu.