Peace Seeker Spotlight
Peace Seeker Spotlight Honoree
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Mattie said we must ”want peace” and we must ”make peace something that matters to us in all times, and for all people.” Our youngest Peace Spotlight honoree so far, 3-year-old Ireland MacKinnon is already seeking to make peace her attitude at home and at school.
Ireland’s mum, Stacey MacKinnon, an associate professor at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada joined Mattie’s Peace Club as a longtime Mattie fan. She then decided to register her daughter for our free Peace Club Kids program, and to support Ireland in being an active member. Stacey reads the “Mama Peace Messages“ sent out to the Peace Club Kids and Teens to her daughter, and then sends in photos and artwork that Ireland creates as her peace reflections and responses.
For Valentine’s Day this year, Ireland created a poem that she transformed into a song for peace. Her mum sent the song in to be posted on the Peace Club Kids page. Now, as we celebrate individuals and groups who share peace through poetry and the performing arts, the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation honors Ireland MacKinnon as our Peace Seeker Spotlight Honorees for our April-May post.
Below are Ireland’s responses
to our interview questions –
Thank you to her mum, Stacey,
for helping Ireland participate in this Spotlight!
What would you like to share about yourself?
My name is Ireland MacKinnon. I am 3 years old and I go to Island Montessori Academy. I live with my Mum, Stacey, and my dad, Robert, and my sister, Emma, who is 16 years old.
My favorite things to do and learn are drawing, lessons at school, reading and making up stories, piano, and dance.
I love going to the park, swimming, and playing games at home with Mummy and Daddy. I also like making up,stories and songs, and I like puzzles, playing piano, dancing, reading books with Mummy, making crafts, going to the movies with Daddy, drawing, and playing pretend with my friends.
When I grow up I want to be a child doctor and an animal rescuer.
What helps you smile?
Sunny days at the park make me smile. So do Hide-and-Go-Seek, freeze tag, stories, music and dancing, and learning new things at school.
How do you help others smile?
I help other people smile by sharing my toys with them, playing together, giving hugs, singing, saying ‘I love you.’
Tell us a bit about peace.
I am learning about peace at my school this year. We are learning about peacemakers such as Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Maria Montessori, and Kofi Annan.
At our Christmas concert we sang “Light a Candle for Peace.” Even though we are little kids we can help make peace.
I am one of Mattie’s Peace Club Kids! I send in pictures and poems and share peace.
My school is raising money to help a boy with cancer. We folded 1,000 paper cranes to help his family. He is very sick and needed his mom to go to the hospital with him like my mummy did when I was sick.
All my mummy’s grown-up friends helped me raise money to help. Having his mom there will help him have more peace while he is trying to get better. Then he won’t be so scared of the pokes.
This year I also gave my friends Peace Valentines so they would remember that peace and love are important. I also made up a peace song for Valentine’s that is on the computer.
My mummy sent my Valentine’s song to Mattie’s mom and she shared it on the Peace Club Kids page. Mattie’s mom shared it with a picture of me!
Do you have a favorite poem by Mattie?
I like Mattie’s poem called “Birth-Tears” (written by Mattie at age 5, and in his Hope Through Heartsongs book). I like it because I like hearing about the day I was born, and this poem is about love on the day Mattie was born.
Click on image to enlarge Ireland’s About Spring poem.
The artwork is titled:
Animals in a Park in Spring After it Rains
How did you learn about Mattie and his Foundation?
Response offered by Ireland’s mum, Stacey MacKinnon:
I first heard of Mattie when watching Oprah many years ago. It was his first meeting with her and he stole my heart. His message was simple and obviously straight from the heart.
After that show I began to read his poetry. When his mom’s book (“Messenger”) was published, I rushed out to buy a copy and read it in one night. I cried, I smiled, I laughed and I remembered how important the actions of one person can be.
When my daughter Ireland was born in June 2009, I wanted to make the quest for peace part of her life from the start. I read her the poems from the time she was quite young.
Now that she is 3 1/2 years old, she understands that peace is important and that everyone has to work together to make it happen. Her school reinforces that by making peace a priority.
I have also included peace in my teaching at the University of Prince Edward Island here in Canada, where I am an Associate Professor of Social Psychology. In my courses, I share Mattie’s message and Jeni’s message as well with my students wherever possible. Peace has to be part of our everyday lives at home, school, work and play! Jeni has even conducted a Peace & Book Chat with my “Psychology of Good and Evil” class after they read her Messenger book.
Why did you choose to join Mattie’s Peace Club Kids?
Response offered by Ireland’s mum, Stacey MacKinnon:
When people who believe in making peace a priority gather together, great things can happen. I joined first Mattie’s Peace Club as a member myself. Then when Ireland was three I signed her up for Mattie’s Peace Club Kids.
Jeni sends “Mama Peace Messages” to the children and teens who are members. We read the messages together as a family, and we talk about ways to make things better in our community.
We share peace in whatever way we can.Ireland may only be three years old, but she can make a difference. Working with her and her unending optimism reminds me — as an adult — to make the most of each day!
Any other thoughts you would like to share?
How do I feel being a Peace Seeker? I feel happy! I’m glad you liked my Valentine’s song.
I want to help other kids and grown-ups make peace in the world and in their families like Mattie. I want to do more for peace when I’m a grown-up like Mummy.
Closing thought from Ireland’s mum, Stacey:
I am doing several research projects on forgiveness, resilience, and trust, as well as teaching a class at UPEI on the Psychology of Good and Evil. Part of this involves designing a course on the Psychology of Peace. If anyone is interested in these topics, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Closing response from Mattie’s mom, Jeni Stepanek:
Mattie’s Foundation looks forward to working with you as your create the Psychology of Peace course. We have launched a new Peace Certification Program for individuals and communities, including teachers and students and classes and schools. The program supports people in exploring Mattie’s message, and then choosing to “reflect, respond, and reach out” in some way to express that message. This is a perfect fit!
And thank you, Stacey, for helping Ireland with the interview questions. It is wonderful to celebrate the excitement of our youngest people of peace!
Thank you, Ireland,
for being a
(Click on image to enlarge)