By Christine Spretnjak
In 2005, homicide was the second leading cause of death among persons ages 15 to 19 years, accounting for 2, 076 deaths according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Contrary to public perception, violent crime has declined dramatically since 1994.
There are likely multiple factors responsible for the drop, including declining violence associated with drug gangs, effective community-oriented law enforcement efforts, as well as numerous school and community-based efforts to prevent violence.
PeaceJam Heartland can credit themselves with contributing to the decline which is clear in their stated mission to inspire a new generation of peacemakers who are committed to creating positive change in themselves, their communities and the world.
Scott Miniea, Heartland PeaceJam Regional Affiliate Director and Jill Flakne, regional trainer for PeaceJam groups presented the vision of PeaceJam in action at the Pre-Parliament Living Peaceably event on the campus at the College of Metaphysics in Windyville, Missouri on September 5, 2009.
PeaceJam is a year-long, on-going international education program built around leading Nobel Peace Prize winners who work personally with youth, ages 14-19, to pass on the spirit, skills and wisdom they embody. Through learning about and meeting these master-peacemakers, the cliché of “one person making a difference” comes alive for each participating youth
Flakne tells a story about a student who was ready to drop out of school. “I sent a few emails and contacted a few connections and Jody Williams, one of the Nobel Laureates, actually called him on his cell phone and told him how important his education was. Those things are huge.” The boy graduated.
A PeaceJam featuring Williams is one of Scott’s favorites. “One of my college students was getting ready to graduate and she learned about Darfur.” Darfur, Sudan is experiencing a civil war resulting in widespread reports of ethnic genocide. “The student spent the next year raising money for women and children refugees there and she still works with Jody Williams.”
“She went from a life that was impacted by the world to a life that will impact the world. It just makes a difference” says Jill.
Featuring PeaceJam was natural for an event like Living Peaceably. Dr. Christine Madar, event coordinator remembers “PeaceJam was the first organization to respond to our invitation to present at this event. We were thrilled because of the obvious connection between their work and a theatrical performance that has been presented in the Peace Dome, based on Nobel Peace Prize laureates since 2002.”
This theatrical performance, The Invitation, was presented during the Closing Plenary of Living Peaceably. College of Metaphysics thespians brought to life eight Nobel Peace Prize laureates that put an exclamation mark on a luminous day.