Today’s young people have unprecedented awareness of local, regional and global issues, as well as a desire to solve problems. Yet peace is mostly missing from both formal and informal education, training and mentoring around the world. Young people are also rarely invited to create and participate in projects and initiatives that help conditions of positive peace and well-being in their communities and broader society. peace projects. The course content and experiences of Youth & Peace in Action helps students explore – in an interactive, accessible way – peace ideals that are “universal” to creating a culture of peace. At the same time, the reflection and learning leads to project ideas that make a difference in the context of different community needs. The goal is education for peace, not just education about peace.
All students, teachers and advisors at participating YPA high schools and youth service clubs/orgs. can enroll in My Peacebuilder Foundations, the core online course and interactive content. Students learn to use established frameworks to consider how power, conflict, violence and peace intersect. Among these are four that are well-known in conflict resolution and peacebuilding: Galtung’s Triangle of Violence to distinguish different types of violence; Conflict Tree to get at the root causes of an issue; Eight Pillars of Peace to understand systemic drivers of conflict & peace; UNLEASH framework for peace project ideation, design and development.
Six modules cover the “7Hs” framework, and each provides opportunities for self-reflection, new knowledge, and activities for engaging in community conversations and projects.
Together, the six modules (7Hs) incorporate:
My Peacebuilder Foundations includes content that is useful to students in other class research, papers and capstone projects. Every module uses technology-based ideas-sharing tools. Built-in assessments ensure that students who complete the course can receive a certificate from NewGen Peacebuilders and Youth & Peace in Action. The course includes supplemental content that is useful for other class research, papers and capstone projects. Students are guided through use of key frameworks and tools in a way that shapes ideas to put peace projects in action.
As students engage in the Online Peace Platform, they will have opportunities to hear about and learn from young certified peacebuilders. Their voices and experiences will serve to offer guidance, inspiration and education throughout the core My Peacebuilder Foundations course and beyond. These inspiring peacebuilder role models have completed peacebuilder training, served as young peace ambassadors, mentored teams, created multiple peace projects and won significant awards.
The link between peacebuilding and the issue of people living without houses, homes and shelter has been made by students in cities that spread from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States. When exploring these topics, students have access to data/factoids provided in the YPA Online Platform, and they might choose to focus on the aspect of homelessness that is most relevant in their specific communities.
In Charlottesville, VA, a project team of students from several high schools learned that the number of chronically homeless had risen to about 220 people every winter, a large number given the city’s population. A common perception is that members of the homeless population all have addiction problems or mental illness. Many people in US shelters are employed.
The team learned about the realities of homelessness from representatives of the city’s only shelter; researched the positive effect of “art therapy”; collaborated with local nonprofits to plan art workshops; and held art supplies drive at high schools while educating students about homelessness and volunteer opportunities. Students piloted the workshops, presented their ideas and impact at the city’s annual Tom Tom Founders Festival; and won the TTFF and Youth Summit Social Innovation Challenge. The project, called “Art for the Heart,” won the competition, and students were chosen to participate in a prestigious local innovation lab normally open only to adults. This project has inspired and been adapted youth peace projects in several cities. Co-leader Max Beers now serves as a Youth & Peace in Action Ambassador.
Peace education, training and mentoring content, resources, and experiences that underpin YPA have been “road tested” and evaluated in workshops, dialogues, and peace project implementations led by NewGen Peacebuilders since 2014. NewGen Peacebuilders is a peace education program that emphasizes the role, value and impact of young people ages 14-24 in achieving a peaceful world. The mission: make learning to be a peacebuilder a rite of passage for everyone.
Presentations, dialogues and workshops have been delivered on four continents, independently, or in collaboration with other organizations and networks including the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Institute for Economics & Peace, and Rotary Positive Peace Activators. The emphasis is on understanding frameworks related to peace, developing peace project planning and management skills, and embracing peacebuilding as a personal responsibility.