Our young peacemakers

How do we begin to change a culture of violence? How do we nurture the ways of peace? How do we recognize agents of that change who are among us now? How do we encourage the next generation to embrace peace?

A number of years ago, members of Interfaith Council of Franklin County thought about these things and decided to partner with Traprock Center for Peace and Justice to recognize young people in our area who are “peacemakers.”

Who are these young people? In the past 12 years we have honored quite a diversity of undertakings. Some of the teens work as a part of programs within their schools. They are peer mediators, trainers of active bystanders, part of anti-bullying programs. In a very real sense, they are “First Responders” — the ones who intervene to diffuse a bad situation. It takes a kind of courage that maybe you wish you had had when you were a teenager

Other peacemakers have been moved by needs and situations far from our community and have raised funds or initiated projects to address those needs. They have collected books for schools in Africa, raised money to send food to victims of famine, and have begun to see themselves as part of a global village.

Others have reached out in compassion to local individuals or groups with special needs. They have made a crucial difference to people who are more often passed by. Some have initiated their own ideas; others have enabled existing programs to reach further.

In addition to the honor and a certificate, a small monetary award is included. The financial support comes from a legacy gift from the former First Baptist Church of Greenfield.

If you know of a young person who has worked for peace and justice, perhaps in a unique way, you can nominate that person to receive a Peacemaker Award. The nominee must be in Grades 8–12 (or comparable age if not in school) and live or attend school in Franklin County.

Nomination forms can be found on the websites of Interfaith Council and Traprock Center (www.interfaithcounciloffranklincounty.org or www.traprock.info). The deadline for submitting nominations is April 5. If you have questions, please call 413-522-5978.

We invite community, youth group, high school, and faith group leaders to identify youth that could be recognized for the initiatives taken that have made a positive impact within their communities or more far reaching.

The award presentations will be made on Thursday, May 16, at 7 p.m. at the Greenfield Community College cafeteria. The public is invited.

Sue Bowman, Joan VanderVliet and Doris McLeod wrote this on behalf of the Interfaith Council of Franklin County.

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