Kids for Peace

I’m thrilled to know that peace storytelling for kids will be a regular feature of the inter-agency Serbisyo Caravan for Peace and Development in Region XI. The organizers would like to make use of local children stories to promote a culture of peace among kids in these communities. I’m glad they found my recommendations in my first post about “Books for Raising CSPP Kids” useful options for this undertaking. Yay!

The Serbisyo Caravan is part of the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) initiative that aims to bring government services closer to the people and extend development interventions to remote and vulnerable communities, ensuring that no one’s left behind.

The enthusiasm to include peace storytelling in the caravan sprang from the successful conduct of this activity by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) in day care centers in some PAMANA barangays last month, during the Peace Consciousness Month. This reminds me as well of the time when my colleagues and I launched a series of Kids for Peace sessions in 2008 and 2009. Back then, it was done to drum up support for the implementation of Executive Order 570, Institutionalizing Peace Education in Basic Education and Teacher Education.

Artwork courtesy of Jodi Lego
Artwork courtesy of Jodi Lego

Every Kids for Peace session was really fun with opportunities to participate in interactive storytelling, group dance, peace art and games with tokens to boot. We conducted this in a children’s museum (Museo Pambata), bookstore (Powerbooks), a mall (SM), communities where there are peace caravans, an evacuation area for internally displaced people, and of course, schools. Celebrities (Diether Ocampo and Nova Villa), storytelling group (Alitaptap Storyteller Philippines), teachers, local youth group and OPAPP staff led the storytelling sessions. Other non-government organizations (i.e. Green Circle Foundation; Kids for Peace Foundation; K.I.D.S. Foundation; World Food Programme; and the Peacemaker’s Circle) also provided support/co-facilitated the events.

kids for peace photos 2

In 2008 and 2009, the Kids for Peace sessions aimed to promote tolerance[1], non-violent means of resolving conflict and protection of natural resources. In some of the venues, Muslim and Christian kids played together and participated in the interactive storytelling sessions. In September 2009, OPAPP also partnered with the Department of Education to conduct the National Storytelling for Peace where DepEd and OPAPP staff packaged several story options with lesson plan for use of elementary teachers.

kids for peace photos 3

FRIENDSHIP CEREMONY

The story of Ang Dalawang Haring Siga which is about two proud kings who are at odds with each other, inspired us to add a friendship ceremony in the Kids for Peace program. At the start of the ceremony, we asked the kids to show off their ‘siga’ (rogue) pose. Now, after listening and learning from the story, we encouraged the kids to replace their ‘siga’ pose with a new, more fun and positive action.

friendship ceremony_kids for peaceWe demonstrated to the kids a cool handshake (consisting of high-5, shake hand, etc.) that the kids will do while reciting the mantra: “Kaibigan kita at magtutulungan tayo para sa kapayapaan.” (You’re my friend and we will work together for peace). They recited this with their partner/friend.

After doing the ‘handshake’ and reciting their mantra, the kids exchanged baller as a symbol of their friendship and bond as peace advocate.

PANATA NG ISANG BATANG TAGAPAGTAGUYOD NG KAPAYAPAAN
(PLEDGE OF A YOUNG PEACE ADVOCATE)

To wrap up our ‘Kids for Peace’ events, children recited the pledge of a young peace advocate which I wrote back then for this event.

pledge_peace advocate_kids for peace

Ako si _________ ay naniniwala na nilikha akong mabuti ng Diyos.
(I am _________ and I believe that I am created as naturally good by God.)

Marami akong magagandang katangian ngunit dahil ako ay espesyal na anak ng Diyos, hindi lahat ng kung ano ako ay gayun din ang iba. (I have many good qualities but because I am a special child of God, I am wonderfully unique and different from others.)

Dahil dito, alam ko na maaring may pagkakataon na hindi ako maiintindihan o matatanggap ng iba. (Because of this uniqueness, I know that there will be times when others will not understand or readily accept me.)
Gayundin, hindi rin sa lahat ng pagkakataon ay magugustuhan ko ang aking kapwa.
(I also know that I may not like others at all times.)

Ngunit dahil ako ay nilikhang may likas na kabutihan ng puso, sisikapin ko na unawain ang aking kapwa. (But because I am created with innate goodness in my heart, I will strive to draw this goodness in trying to understand others.)

Magiging bukas ako sa pakikipag-usap at hindi makikipag-away. Mamahalin ko ang aking pamilya at mga kaibigan at magiging mapagpatawad sa iba.
(I will be open to dialogue and will not quarrel with others. I will love my family and friends and will be forgiving of others.

Ako ay isang peace advocate. (I am a peace advocate.)

Sa aming tahanan, paaralan, at pamayanan, ako ay tutulong upang panatiliin ang kaayusan at kapayapaan pagka’t naniniwala akong may magagawa ako para maging mapayapa ang Pilipinas! (In our home, school and community, I will help in ensuring peace and order because I believe I can do something for a peaceful Philippines!)

This pledge was actually tailored-fit to the theme and stories used in 2008-2009. This may need a little bit of tweaking to make it a more generic but still meaningful pledge of a young peace advocate.

Those Kids for Peace events were really happy times and this post is already sounding more like a Throwback Thursday on a Tuesday :). Oh, I’m just feeling quite nostalgic and missing these peace ed mini adventures. Although those were just simple activities, all our efforts are rewarded each time kids assert their vision of peace and said something smart about how conflict can be resolved in a peaceful way.

I hope the peace storytelling of the Serbisyo Caravan inspires more teachers to integrate peace in their lesson plan. One story may not be enough to firmly plant the seeds of peace in the minds and hearts of young ones. To build a culture of peace, we must consistently cultivate the values and abilities of children for peace everywhere – at home, in school and in our community.

–ems, #iamforpeace

[1] Tolerance is the “respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of cultures and various forms of human expression (UNESCO, 1995; Castro and Gallace, 2008).