"Peace Prize" for Folks Aged 8-22

My friend Eric Dawson is launching this:

The Peace First Prize is your chance to celebrate the powerful contributions of peacemakers. The Prize will recognize young people between the ages of 8-22 for their compassion, courage and ability to create collaborative change. Through a two-year $50,000 Peace First Fellowship we will invest in their leadership as peacemakers and share their stories with the nation.

Are you a young person who's taken action to make your school or community more peaceful?

Do you know a young person who's taken personal risks to stand up for their beliefs? Who's rallied others to make a difference?

Some of you, dear readers, know young people who fit the bill.

Perhaps you should steer them to the website, which is here. Or incorporate the competition into a class!

Eric's team wrote some profiles of the types of folks who could win.

Antonio, 21

At the age of 16 Antonio was arrested and sent to a juvenile detention for armed robbery. Released after 18 months, he realized his bad choices led him to a life of gang violence. Wanting to create better opportunities for young people like him who lacked a sense of purpose and direction, he started volunteering as a basketball coach at the local YMCA. Feeling the rewards of helping local youth, Antonio started a program there for young men to have a safe place - and people to turn to - when gangs were courting them on the streets. Today, 3 years later, Antonio has recruited a team of former gang members to work with him to provide support to more than 120 young men on a daily basis through his program.

Kristina, 10

While doing her homework, Kristina overheard a story on the news about how the city’s budget cuts in her small town caused safety hazards at local parks: old equipment wasn’t being replaced and there was no security to keep parks safe. Kristina decided to take action. She developed a campaign to raise awareness about the need for safe parks from the perspective of kids.

After going door-to-door, she found that many adults, while sharing her concerns, dismissed her ideas. Rather than quit, she recruited over 85 youth as “Parks for Peace” leaders who, together, raised $50,000 from local companies and residents. The city agreed to match the funds to restore the park.

While this was a victory, Kristina learned that the city had no plans to make the playground wheelchair accessible. Because her cousin had used a wheelchair since he was 4, Kristina couldn’t stand by. She activated her youth leaders again to protest the city’s plans and persuaded them to re-design the park. Not stopping there, when the park opened, Kristina and her group signed up adults to serve on a watch patrol to keep the parks clean and safe.

Jake, 17

Jake is a high school senior in Bellingham, Washington. Last summer, tragedy struck his school when an openly gay couple was attacked in the school parking lot after a sporting event. Jake, a member of the state champion baseball team, decided to stand up to the culture of bullying and exclusion at school. He formed a gay-straight student alliance that led to awareness that spread beyond the school and into the community. His alliance ran small-group workshops at school to promote understanding, worked with the city manager to create a hot-line for bullied teens, and organized student athletes to present workshops for younger students about how to stand up to bullies. Today, Jake and his classmates are setting an example of empathy, inclusion, and respect across the school—making combatting bullying a expectation for all. City and state leaders have taken notice, and student athletes from rival teams are following his lead to make their schools and events safe for the entire community.

And this one.

Mike, 43

While playing Scrabble online, Mike realized the MTR chili cook off is coming soon. He wanted badly to win. Lacking creativity, he hit up his readers for great ideas and recipes. They came through. However, his colleagues have taken notice. Now rival chefs are following his lead to make their chili even better. Mike realizes now he should have taken the stealth approach, because he's not confident of victory.

Peace out!