Celebrating a Climate of Peace!
During January, the newest Peace Ambassadors from Pangborn Elementary School in Hagerstown, Maryland participated in a Skype “Peace Chat” with Dr. Jeni Stepanek – also known as Mattie’s mom, or Mama Peace.
During the 2012-2013 school year, PES became the first school to be “Peace Certified” by the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation. This year, PES is creating a “Peace Climate” – peace is an important matter that is talked about every day, and students are celebrated for positive behaviors and peaceful choices.
PES encourages the students and staff to choose peace not only in the classroom, but also outside of class – such as during lunch and recess, and while on the bus and in the community.
The faculty and staff select Peace Ambassadors every couple of months. These students are honored during an assembly, and they have the opportunity to participate in a Peace Chat with Mattie’s mom.
Ten of the current 13 Peace Ambassadors participated in the January Peace Chat. Their bus drivers selected this group of students, who are in kindergarten through fifth grade.
During the 20 minute Peace Chat, they talked about many important peace matters, including:
- Peace and why each of these students was selected as a Peace Ambassador – they follow rules, they use respect and good manners, and they show kindness to other students and adults.
- The privilege of being selected as a role model — that being proud of this is good, and continuing to choose peace matters, even after the time frame of being the current Peace Ambassadors.
- How peace begins, and how peace grows – peace begins in our hearts when we can say “I am okay” even if we are different from others, and peace grows when we then reach out to others to make sure they are “okay” as well, even if they are different from us.
- The importance of kindness – and how being kind can stop bullying. One student said that sometimes, bullying is about putting a label on someone’s back because they are different, and that kindness is about taking that label off. The person being labeled might be the bully, or the one being bullied. And the person removing the label, and making peace choices might be the bully, or the one being bullied. Any person, at any time, can choose peace.
The students also shared their favorite animals, which included dogs and cats, fish and bunnies and turtles, and dolphins and zebras and tigers. And, even though everyone agreed that “Peace is possible!” they also decided that it would be best to keep bunnies and zebras away from the tigers!
The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation is a non-profit organization, created in 2005 to continue the work of the late teen poet and peace activist, Mattie J.T. Stepanek. During Mattie’s “almost 14 years” of life, he penned seven NY Times Bestselling books of “Heartsongs” poetry and ”Just Peace” essays, and served as an ambassador for many peace and disability-related organizations. Mattie died in 2004 due to complications of a rare neuromuscular disease.
Mattie’s Foundation creates develops education and recreational programs and activities for children, teens, and adults that encourage peacemaking as a deliberate action. For more information about Mattie, Mattie’s Foundation, Mattie’s Peace Club programs for youth and adults, of the Foundation’s Peace Certification program – please visit www.MattieOnline.com.
Congratulations to all of the PES Peace Ambassadors!
“Peace is possible… choose peace!”
Mattie J.T. Stepanek
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