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PeaceBuilders® Creating Safe, Positive Learning Environments

Featured Sites

PeacePartners, Inc. honors our valued partners by celebrating their passion for peace, their creative ideas, and the wonderful implementation strategies they incorporate.

As we continue to support our partners, it is our privilege to showcase PeaceBuilders sites. Don't just take our word for it. Read about some featured sites as they explored their problems, developed their PeaceBuilders solution, and discovered positive outcomes! We invite you to sit back and explore the fantastic PeaceBuilding events happening throughout the United States and U.S. Territories.


Camp Akwaba - Mercy Medical Center - Canton, OH
On July 16, 2009, Camp Akwaba, a week long summer day camp sponsored by Mercy Medical Center in Canton, Ohio, opened its doors to show the community the great success they have had teaching young children from this underprivileged neighborhood the power of peace.

Community Outreach Director, Karen Feller, organizes and operates the camp with an enormous amount of help from her trusty side-kick Karen McElhaney, her super PeaceCoach Myrna Shock, and a dedicated staff of counselors, many of whom were once campers themselves.

Each summer 36 young people from the local neighborhood, the local schools, and the Peoples Baptist Church (which generously donates all the indoor and outdoor space for the camp) are selected to attend. The children are split into six families that include six campers and two camp counselors. They wear colored t-shirts that identify each family.

  



  

This year, the six families were given names associated with Native American tribes: Sioux, Navaho, Iroquois, Cherokee, Hopi, and Arapaho. The tribes will change from year to year so that campers have the opportunity to learn about different tribes and their peaceful ways.

Camp Akwaba infuses PeaceBuilders into all their activities and lessons. Even their guest speakers and entertainers are informed about the camp's focus on building peace so that they can encourage the behaviors that help to make the camp such a safe and inclusive place.

Each day of the week focuses on specific PeaceBuilders themes or principles:

  
The week begins on Monday with an introduction: All about PeaceBuilders.
On Tuesday, the focus is on Praise People and Give-Up Put-Downs.
Wednesday's focus is on Notice Hurts and Right Wrongs.
Seek Wise People is the focus on Thursday.
And the highlighted PeaceBuilders Principle on Friday is Help Others.

Each tribe has its own "campsite" to collect their daily mail, work on activities, and spend quiet time. The counselors decorate the space before the kids get there on Monday morning, but the campers get to add to the decorations with their own work as the week goes on.

This campsite includes a list of all the campers' and counselors' names and provides a gentle reminder about behavioral expectations by asking the question "What would a PeaceBuilder do?"

Each morning, a pow-wow is held. The children hear a story that demonstrates the PeaceBuilders themes of the day followed by a discussion to make the lesson complete. Activities for the rest of the day also focus on the same themes.

Director Karen Feller works with a camper during arts and crafts time in the afternoon to create a panel for the Peace Quilt.

A PeaceQuilt, made during a previous year's camp session, includes a panel from each camper and counselor. It decorates one of the community rooms.

  
One of the activities the campers engaged in on the day of the showcase event was a sidewalk art contest. 6' x 6' squares were marked out with tape on the blacktop and each tribe worked as a team to fill their square with a peace themed design. Each team won with a unique designation: "Best use of PeaceBuilders themes," "Best team work," "Best use of color," "Best use of space," etc.

The best way to learn about PeaceBuilders is to see it and feel it in action. Visitors to Mercy Medical Center's Camp Akwaba experienced the power first-hand and left with a better understanding of the simplicity of the program thanks to the most appreciated efforts of the staff and campers at Camp Akwaba who prove year after year that PeaceBuilders isn't a program; it's a way of life.


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