A Peace Tree Centre can be created in your school or classroom as a space that can benefit all students to find peace and celebrate diversity. The room will be filled with literature, music and art that reflects peace from many cultures and faiths. The Peace Tree Centre will integrate many parts of the curriculum including Language, Social Studies, Math (fundraising), Art, Music, and Dance. Creating a Peace Tree Centre is an ideal year-long project for English Language Learners/English Literacy Development classes. Many of the activities below can be carried out in the regular classroom as well.
When you organize your fundraiser(s), try to create artifacts with your hands, i.e., a chain of paper cranes, draw mehndi art, draw medicine wheels, make ikebana flower arrangements, or share a musical or dance concert that reflects diversity.
Research a list of books appropriate for students in your school that focus on peace, diversity and inspiring young people to become leaders.
Collect and share articles on areas of conflict in the world. Find out what you can do as a club or a school to help the victims of war. Hold a fundraiser to help build a school for children in a war-torn area. (You can donate funds raised to Free the Children as they have a fund to help build schools in Sierra Leone)
One section of your Peace Tree Centre can highlight portraits and bios of great peace leaders in our world like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and many others.
Collect and share articles of other children and youth who are taking leadership in peace initiatives. Create a wall with these articles with a catchy heading.
Research and write inspiring quotations that relate to peace, respect, harmony, unity and celebrating diversity from authors, poets, philosophers, human rights leaders, Presidents, Prime Ministers etc. Write them on a wall or create a quilt with a quotation written or embroidered on each patch.
Visit various ethnic areas to develop and generate new ideas for artwork you can create in your school based on the artistic influences from different cultures. Visits to Little India, Chinatown, Greek Town are very inspiring to stimulate new ideas. Perhaps instead of chairs, there will be futons, ethnic spreads and cushions where students can relax and read about peace. You may come up with some customs for your Peace Tree Centre where everyone has to remove their shoes before they enter and sit on the futons.
Create a Peace Tree in your Peace Tree Centre that will reflect the symbols of everyone’s cultures and faiths. Please visit www.peacetreeday.com for details on how to create a Peace Tree and stencils for The Peace Tree symbols of different cultures and faiths.
Visit a record store and listen to the various rhythms and beats from around the world and music that reflects peace. Share some of these unique rhythms through your Peace Tree Centre, so visitors will feel at peace as soon as they enter the centre.
Write your own song with members in your club to launch your Peace Tree Centre and your Peace Tree. Work with the school band to see if they can create the score for you. Record your song and include it on your website.
Research the various peace festivals and religious festivals that can be a way to unite families from different communities. Represent these various festivals in your Peace Tree Centre so everyone feels welcome and included.
Research interesting customs, traditions and facts about different cultures and faiths in order to create a ‘Did you Know Wall? (e.g., Did you know that it is customary to always remove your shoes when entering a Japanese house? Did you know that in India it is customary to bow down and touch the feet of elders to show respect and receive their blessings.)
Take photos at diverse festivals and cultural performances that you can enlarge and post on the walls of your Peace Tree Centre. Write captions and descriptions of the events.
Create a very creative guest book for all students to sign who visit your Peace Tree Centre, so they can share their thoughts of peace and their impressions of the school’s Peace Tree Centre. You can alternatively create a wall that students can write on to leave their thoughts about the Peace Tree Centre.
Try to write your signs or labels for each section in as many different languages as possible.
Once your Peace Tree Centre is complete and ready for all the students to visit, plan the various forms of promotion and advertising. Prepare a short presentation for an assembly to announce the opening. Create short announcements for the PA, design posters that will share the logo of your Peace Tree Centre and the hours of operation. Create flyers and handouts that teachers can distribute to their classes. Organize student led guided tours of your Peace Tree Centre for each class with a creative explanation of the various aspects of the Peace Tree Centre and how you were inspired to create the different sections. Write a nice and informative article to introduce the Peace Tree Centre. Notify your local or community paper, school newspaper along with the board newsletter to make people aware of your Peace Tree Centre.
Students can also create a short promotional DVD to share with families and during an assembly. This is also a great way to share the message with other schools.
Make sure to document on video all the steps in the creation of your Peace Tree Centre. Make it a summer project to edit the video and then enter it into children’s film festivals to show the leadership and initiative your school has taken. Plan a premiere in your school to share the video and notify other schools and your local paper.
Students can create a beautiful website that reflects the design of your Peace Tree Centre. Interact with other schools to share ideas about your Peace Tree Centre through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram and promote the concept in other schools.
The Peace Tree Centre is a place for students and families from your school and neighbourhood to share and learn about peace and diversity from all our different cultures and faiths. Invite other schools in your neighbourhood to visit your Peace Tree Centre. Hopefully it will inspire them to create their own Peace Tree Centre too, so we can continue to spread peace and diversity.
Please send us your photos of your Peace Tree Centre along with your schools slogan or motto for peace to firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can share ideas and learn from each other.