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Life Arts    H4'ed 8/7/14

Waging Peace: Can These Kids Change The World?

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Not many after school projects can claim an unveiling bigger than this: A Gala event at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum with keynote speakers that include a UN Ambassador, an ABC News correspondent, the founder of the Peace Abbey, and a well known 9/11 first responder.

Then again, The Big Book: Pages for Peace project, is unique in its scope, ambition, and achievement.

Ten years in the making, this one-ton, 12 feet tall (by 20 feet wide, when opened) book is on the subject of peace. Middle school students (full disclosure: my daughter was among them) solicited, collected, and curated the content of the book (including letters, art and poetry) and provided directly to them by world luminaries. Among those who contributed original content in response to the student queries were Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, President Jimmy Carter, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dr. Helen Caldicott, United Nations Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, Ted Kennedy, and thousands of others.

This book will be celebrated at a Gala event this October 8 at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, MA -- and the student group, along with faculty and parent advisors, are currently crowdsourcing funds to build an exhibit for this book worthy of world travel, so they can, "share our messages of peace and inspiration with people everywhere."

Some history:

"In October of 2004, eight fifth grade students joined a Groton Dunstable Regional Middle School after-school enrichment program with the intention of making a book filled with student literary offerings that would be accepted into the Guinness World Book of Records. That initial project has considerably changed and an even more admirable goal resulted: to make the biggest book in the world about peace.

These optimistic students decided that their book should be 10 feet by 12 feet and would be a volume that was not only large in size, but also larger in stature by making its contents meaningful. Teacher/adviser Betsy Sawyer attended a Jimmy Cliff concert and brought back a powerful message to her students from the activist reggae musician, "It's up to us to teach the children about peace" she described the singer as saying. Cliff also asked his audience, "What have you done to promote peace lately?"

The Bookmakers and Dreamers took that message to heart and began researching the topic of world peace. They sent letters to thousands of people around the world asking for their opinions about peace:

What is world peace?

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Dennis Trainor, Jr. is the creator and host of Acronym TV and the writer, director and producer of the documentary American Autumn: an Occudoc.
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